Is it possible to live a "normal" life with MS? Yes certainly!

Nele Handwerker Portrait

Unfortunately, this was not so clear to me at the beginning. 

Christmas 2008, shortly after starting as an international marketing specialist in a large company in Berlin, I had my 2nd relapse. Only then did I start a disease-modifying treatment. When I was diagnosed with MS in 2003, I was only recommended regular check-ups, no prophylactic therapy.

My fear after the 2nd relapse was great. What should I tell my employer? Is my career at stake? Can I continue to work as before? What about all the business trips to the Far East?

In my job in Berlin, I was responsible for B2B marketing for a specialty chemicals company and was in charge of organizing 14 trade shows worldwide per year. I also worked with the product managers to create marketing materials for print and online in English, which had to be technically sophisticated yet easy to understand for non-native speakers. I traveled regularly to Asia and within Europe to various customer events and internal marketing meetings, which was possible without any restrictions thanks to my well-functioning disease-modifying treatment. My colleagues knew nothing about my MS.

I wanted to live a "normal" life - and that's what I did.

With a few restrictions, of course. But I was going to work, taking vacations and enjoying my life. In 2018, there was a turning point. I got pregnant. And put an end to hiding. I wrote an encouraging review of my first 15 years with the disease. Prof. Dr. Tjalf Ziemssen, my neurologist since the end of 2008, contributed the foreword. The book was published in April 2020. 

Nele Handwerker in Australien Mt. Grambier Nationalpark
Nele Handwerker mit ihrem Erfahrungsbericht Multiple Sklerose? Keine Angst!

Being a role model for others with my own story and clearing up prejudices

Almost at the same time, I started this website and the podcast "MS-Perspektive", which is aimed at MS patients, their relatives and interested parties. My intention is to provide serious information based on valid study data, but in a way that is easy to understand.

Explaining complex content in an understandable way - and providing encouragement along the way

Regular grateful feedback from MS patients and their families has shown me how important it is to address this topic. There is a lot of information available, but many people with MS are confused by this flood. I understand patients with their fears, hopes, problems and desires because I am one of them. This enables me to ask questions differently and to prepare content in a comprehensible and concise way so that as many patients as possible can benefit from the knowledge and possibilities of the past years. 

Nele Handwerker an der Nordsee

My mission

Today I live very self-determined and free, because I have a good understanding of MS and actively contribute to preserving my health in the long term. I would like to pass this knowledge on to other patients and encourage them to act self-effectively so that they too can enjoy a lovely and happy life with MS. Preferably right from the moment of their diagnosis.

I am all the more delighted that my lived mission has earned me the internationalen Preis der Brain Health Organization's International Award in the Patient Advocate category.