René Hershensohn:
My name is René Hershensohn and I have a twin sister with MS! As the twin that was not affected by the disease, I have always felt such guilt and sorrow for my sister. I was able to carry on with a normal career and have three children. Yvette was blessed with one child but I know she would have loved to have more but doctors advised her to have a hysterectomy at the age of 25 as it might improve her wellbeing. She has had to make so many sacrifices in her life due to MS. She is basically home bound as she finds it to stressful and uncomfortable in public places as people stare and has made comments like “she is drunk” because of the trouble she has with walking. She has no control over her bladder and has had many embarrassing experiences in public. As her twin sister I feel the hurt she is feeling and if I could take it upon my shoulders, I would. Yvette was always the stronger sister from an early age. She was a confident and popular student in school but we always noticed being active and participating in sport activities was always a struggle for her. After school she began working at Rennies Foreign exchange. Due to the stressful nature of the job symptoms began emerging, like rapid weight loss, loss of feeling in her leg and vomiting etc. We were all very concerned for Yvette and finally got the devastating news of her diagnosis. Since her diagnosis 17 years ago I can see how rapid it deteriorated her health. At the rate of her relapses I would not be surprised if she is totally wheel chair bound in the next 5 years or even bed ridden. She hasn’t lived her life yet! She can’t do normal things like a walk on a beach or just going to the mall for a meal. She sits in her house while life is slowly passing her by. I cannot imagine how long a day must feel for her. Simple tasks like going for a shower or cooking takes a huge amount of effort and I can see she is in a lot of pain but as a mother she does what she has to do. Summer time is pure hell for her as her legs feels like it is on fire and there is nothing to ease the pain. For many of us just falling asleep is an ordinary thing, but Yvette suffers insomnia which is torturous. I can go on and on about how MS has put her into this jail that’s her life now This is why this stem cell therapy has given us such hope. Maybe one day we can all walk on the beach or enjoy going out for a meal without worrying about her MS symptoms and she can feel like a normal person without the stares and remarks. Even if it just gives her confidence back it would make such a remarkable difference. As a family we hope and pray for this miracle! There is a cure but so terribly expensive that we just cannot afford it on our own. Any donation large or small will be so much appreciated. Yvette is a funny, intelligent beautiful person and she has so much more to give to this world. Yours truly, René Hershensohn

Pierre Hershensohn:
I have known Yvette since 1997 when I started dating her twin sister Rene. They had both finished high school the year before and Yvette left the quiet seaside town of Langebaan, and her twin sister to seek her fortune in Cape Town as all youngsters find themselves doing at that age. Yvette who was a bright girl with natural charm and beauty had no problem finding a job with Rennies Foreign Exchange in Camps Bay. She excelled at her work, was sent for courses and promoted in no time. It was at this stage in her life when she was doing so well as a young adult that we discovered she had Multiple Sclerosis. I remember her sister (my wife now) and I going to visit Yvette in Cape Town for a weekend. I at the time was a sports climber and she came along to watch while I climbed. There was a short hike in to the crag and I noticed how she struggled with this short walk. I discussed this with her sister and she said that they had had scoliosis as children and it was probably just that. I was however not convinced. On our return to Langebaan I discussed her difficulty in walking with her mother who decided to send her to a specialist. After numerous tests Yvette was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. At the time it didn’t really mean much to any of us who knew Yvette closely, but as time moved on the reality of Multiple Sclerosis eventually dawned on all of us. Yvette’s condition continued to deteriorate while she was working at Rennies, but she stuck it out and continued working hard and making a living. She got transferred to the V&A Waterfront branch and it was there that earning a living became unmanageable. While exchanging cash for a large number of Cape Town’s many tourists her immune system was at war with her nervous system. Bodily functions which we all take for granted began to weaken and fail. Her bladder weakened and she needed to go on bathroom breaks more frequently. Her balance and the strength in her legs went and trips to the bathrooms became more difficult, trips which she sometimes never made. Long hours at the exchange counter became unbearable and with all these distractions her booming career as a young adult in her early 20’s was beginning to fall apart. Yvette’s life was luckily not all doom and gloom and she was able to get a medical board. Rennies agreed to pay her a very basic salary and they also agreed to pay her medical aid for which she and her family are extremely grateful. Yvette has managed to survive for the last 18 years on a salary of R 1300 ($100) a month and a full medical aid. Yvette is someone who is and always has been independent and she has never asked for any help unless it has been absolutely necessary. She would rather go without than be burden to anyone and she just gets by as best she can with what she has. She has put up with her body slowly deteriorating, system after system, while her immune system is continually at war within body and she has had enough. Recently Yvette was researching a way to put an end to the battle within her, which has been robbing her of the quality of life most of us know. She came across success stories of other victims of Multiple Sclerosis who have managed to halt the damage caused by this illness using stem cell treatment. She has discussed it with her neurologist and an online Multiple Sclerosis group to which she belongs and for the first time in 18 years she has a tiny bit of hope. Yvette will never return to the normal life she once had, but she may be able to at least put an end to the deterioration of her body. She may possibly even be able to improve a lot of the damage and start to do a lot of the things most of us do all the time and take for granted. So next time you go for a walk on the beach, take the family out for a meal or even just wonder aimlessly around a mall, remember that Yvette is desperately trying to get money together so that she too can have a life. Spare her a little the difference stem cell treatment will make in her life is huge. Pierre Hershensohn (Brother in Law)

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