IF YOU could bottle Sarah Monck’s courage and attitude, you could solve a lot of the world’s problems.
The 26-year-old former Ballarat Rush basketballer and assistant coach was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) earlier this year, but she’s not letting it beat her.
In fact, the diagnosis in May was a relief to the popular basketballer after months of uncertainty.
She is a strong believer there are people worse off than she is.
“I’m young and fit and, at the moment, I don’t have any symptoms ... so I’m lucky,” she said.
Monck’s onset of symptoms was fairly rapid and they hit her hard.
In a five-week period late last year, she suffered vision loss, tingling sensation in her mouth, pins and needles down one side of her body, she was unstable on her feet and one side of her face dropped on Christmas Day.
On December 27 she was admitted to hospital, where she underwent a series of drugs that greatly eased her symptoms.
However, it took another five months before she was diagnosed with lesions on her brain and MS.
“Getting the diagnosis was a massive shock, but it was also a relief, because it was a long waiting period where I didn’t know what was wrong with me. (MS) is not a good thing, but it could be much worse. It’s not the end of the world,” Monck said.
“MS is something I’m learning to live with.”
Monck thanked her close-knit circle of family and friends, particularly her nurse-trained mum, for helping her through one of the toughest times in her life.
The business management/sports management student and full-time competitions manager at the Ballarat Basketball Stadium is keeping herself busy with her studies and work and now has a new goal to aim for ... conquering the Kokoda Track in Papua New Guinea.
“I had always wanted to do Kokoda and now I need something to focus on other than my treatment. So, for the next six months I’ll be training for the trek,” she said.
On November 9 this year, Monck will join Australian Kokoda Tours for the gruelling eight-day, 96-kilometre trek.
She has started a training regime that includes regular walks through the bush between Ballarat and Creswick, as well as mountain conditioning at Buninyong and Torquay.
While she is currently symptom-free, Monck has decided to step away from her coaching commitments with Ballarat Rush.
“It was a no-brainer to put my health before basketball, so I stood down,” she said.
Monck played four seasons with Rush (formerly Lady Miners) since the age of 18 and was part of the team that won the 2005 Nationals and the SEABL Championship in 2006.
She had been an assistant coach for Rush for the past three years.
She still plays less competitive basketball a couple of times a week, but says her vision and co-ordination were noticeably affected.
Monck’s Kokoda trek will not only keep her mind off her condition but it will also raise much-needed funds for MS Ballarat, a group that supports sufferers by helping with house and garden maintenance, shopping and a friendly shoulder to lean on.
“I want the money I raise to stay local to help local people with MS,” she said.
Monck will hold her second fundraising movie night on Thursday.
Funds raised from the 6.30pm screening of Smurfs 2 at the Regent Cinemas will go towards MS Ballarat.
A previous movie has already raised $1000, while there are also plans for a trivia night next month.
Anyone wanting to book tickets for Thursday night’s screening of Smurf 2 can call Monck on 0409 145275 before noon Thursday.