‘She never complained or felt sorry for herself’ – Keen golfer from Stevenage tells of his late sister’s brave battle with MS
- Credit: Archant
The brother of a multiple sclerosis sufferer who died from complications caused by the cruel disease has taken on a host of charity challenges to raise funds and support the fight against the condition.
David Mollon’s sister Pamela Sanderson was first diagnosed with MS more than 30 years ago, but she had suffered health problems most of her life with pleurisy causing her to lose half her left lung when she was just 12.
Monday marked the start of MS Awareness Week, and David has been reflecting on the challenging times spent dealing with a condition which contributed to the death of his sister in January.
“The MS started with the gradual numbing of her lower half,” he said.
“After a year she caught pneumonia and septicaemia and was in intensive care – we thought we had lost her but she pulled through. She was a fighter and never complained or felt sorry for herself. I felt like the lucky one out of two siblings because she had been dealt a poor hand when it came to her health.”
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The siblings were born in Jarrow in County Durham but David, 65, moved south to work for pharmaceutical firm GlaxoSmithKline 27 years ago, initially to Baldock and then to Stevenage with wife Joyce and daughters Alison and Joanne.
Pamela’s diagnosis had an impact on the whole family, but the pair remained close despite the distance between them.
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“We were all devastated when Pam got MS, but we were also pleased that she did not have the type that progresses quickly,” said David.
“When Joyce and I travelled to Tyneside, Pam was always delighted to see us and we always took her flowers.”
Pamela and her soldier husband Ian were childhood sweethearts. Son Russell, 46, was born in Munster, West Germany, where Ian was posted and later Gary, 45, and 41-year-old Claire were born back in Britain.
Pamela lived in Tyne and Wear and maintained her independence until five years ago when she had to give up driving her motability vehicle, and became chair-bound.
Although completely reliant on Ian, the former secretary was very active on her computer and used Facebook and Skype to keep in touch with family both in the UK and abroad.
The family were keen to raise funds for the Multiple Sclerosis Society, with David and his daughter Alison taking on the Great North Run in 2014 – above right – raising more than £700.
David said: “Pam was delighted – especially as the race practically finished on her doorstep and she watched it on TV.”
Keen golfer David was last year’s senior captain at Mount Pleasant Golf Club in Lower Stondon, where he has been a member since 1992, and chose the cause as his charity.
After a year of sponsored games, special competitions, a folk night, auctions, collection tins, a club social committee donation and money raised from subsidising activities, a cheque of £2,720 was presented to Caroline Kew of the MS Society.
“Seniors have been very generous as have the club management for waiving my membership which allowed me to pay for some of the events,” David added.
Pamela died earlier this year aged 68, a month before the total raised by the golf club was announced.
David said: “She was very proud I had chosen to raise money for that charity. She followed my progress on Facebook and always liked and commented. It is a shame she died before I could announce my total.
“Pam will be best remembered as a wonderful wife and mother, and as someone who thought of others.
“She donated her brain and spine to MS research and we take comfort in the fact that part of her is continuing to help fight this awful disease.”