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NHS nurse forced to retire following MS diagnosis trying to raise £45k for surgery in Mexico

An NHS nurse forced to retire following a multiple sclerosis diagnosis is trying to raise £45k for life-changing surgery in Mexico. Mum-of-three Nicola Shergold, 54, says she was left devastated after being told she had MS in 2017. The condition meant she had to give up her role as a health visitor due to safeguarding issues. And, six years on and despite trying various medications and treatments, Nicola says nothing has helped her symptoms. So she is now trying to raise £45,000 so she can travel to Mexico for stem cell surgery. Nicola, from Colchester, Essex, said: “If you have a stroke, it’s fast and hard with the treatment to prevent disability. "But when you have MS it’s the complete opposite, they start you on the lowest efficacy drug. “It’s not until your disability is so severe or you’ve failed high efficacy drugs that you’re allowed stem cell treatment. "But by then people are then too disabled for stem cell. “I have a young child still, one of my sons has severe and complex needs, I have to be there for them and stem cell is the only chance of me doing so. “I can’t get stem cell treatment on the NHS, so my only chance is to pay £45k. “Everyone is struggling financially, I’m the one that normally helps people and I’ve lost my independence. "The thought of asking people for money traumatises me but I have to do it, it’s my only chance.” Nicola says she experienced MS symptoms as a teen, but learnt to live with the condition. It wasn't until she was 48 that her GP suspected she may have the condition – and while she was prescribed steroids to help, she reacted poorly to the medication and was hospitalised. While in hospital she underwent an MRI and lumbar puncture and received a definitive diagnosis of relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis in November 2017. Due to mobility and cognition issues, she was forced to retire from her much-loved role as a health visitor. Nicola then began a course of disease-modifying drugs to try and reduce the nerve cell inflammation caused by MS. However, she says the drugs caused severe side effects for her, including reduced immunity and hypothyroidism. Following her own research, Nicola concluded that haematopoietic stem cell transplantation would be the best option for her. She applied for a medical trial run by Sheffield hospital to test the efficacy of stem cell treatment but was placed in the disease-modifying drugs group rather than the stem cell transplantation group, she claims. Now, Nicola has decided to fundraise for her own stem cell treatment in Mexico through charity AIMS – needing £45k to fund travel to and from Mexico and the treatment itself. “I did my own research into stem cell transplants which is a popular treatment in the MS community,” said Nicola. “My GP referred me onto the trial looking at high-efficacy drugs compared to stem cell treatment. “I was praying to be in the stem cell group but unfortunately, I wasn’t and was given the high-efficacy drug starting in January 2023. “What most people do is go to Mexico for treatment - AIMS support people through this and give them advice on fundraising. “It was through them that I found out about Mexico and decided I don’t want to end up bedridden or wheelchair-bound and my best chance was stem cell treatment.” For additional information and to donate to Nicola's fundraiser, visit her GoFundMe here: https://www.gofundme.com/f/life-changing-hsct-treatment-for-ms