Faces of Caregiving – Australia
People with multiple sclerosis (MS) are warriors,” says Angelo Lofitis. And he would know, having cared for his wife Megan, who has had MS for the past 10 years.
In fact, she was diagnosed not long after their daughter, Stella (aged 10) was born.
In the beginning, she thought she was going blind as she had optic neuritis which causes partial blindness. She also walks with a limp, has dexterity and cognitive issues, and is a falls risk.
Angelo and Megan have been together for 23 years and have been married for 20 years. They met at TAFE studying real estate and Angelo is now a managing director and auctioneer of a real estate agency, while Megan no longer works
“Every day is different with MS. You never know what body part is going to be affected,” says Angelo. “It’s an invisible, yet insidious disease that doesn’t discriminate. We find it frustrating, but we just get on with it and make the most of our lives.”
Due to Megan’s illness, Angelo does all the cleaning, cooking, grocery shopping and housework. Megan can still drive Stella to her dance lessons as she is familiar with the route, but generally she needs someone to go out with her to ensure she doesn’t fall.
The family receives only a small mobility allowance from the government and minimal other assistance.
In addition to his role as a caregiver, Angelo is also chairman of the MS Advisory Council and acts as a conduit between MS patients and the board to help patients access services.
And in his ‘spare time’, Angelo is an enthusiastic participant and fundraiser for the MS Gong Ride. The 82km bike ride from Sydney to Wollongong raises funds for people living with MS. He has taken part in it for the past 10 years and placed in the top five fundraisers in the last six years in a row. More importantly, Angelo and his team have raised over $550,000 over the past 10 years.
“I would encourage anyone who would like to give some time to a carer they know, to visit www.embracingcarers.com and register their support,” says Angelo. “Your help will be more appreciated than you can imagine.”