Linebacker Moore shows Lion spirit
Laura Moore is just the sort of person you want on your team – not just brave and bold, she is also very tough and stubbornly determined. Sport is a serious business to this former Royal Air Force Weapons Systems Operator and it shows in both the way she prepares and delivers in both practice and competition, all courtesy of no other gear, other than top gear.
A steadfast competitor, Laura has been an integral member of the Lions’ family since the team’s inception and indeed from the first development days of the new era of women’s American Football in the UK. An international from the (Sept 2013) start Laura has been selected for all of Great Britain’s internationals to date and has played on both sides of the ball, as a starter – making the jump from Running Back to Linebacker with it seems much ease – but don’t be deceived, such effort is not without application, above and beyond what most of us have to endure.
Diagnosed with Multiple sclerosis (MS) in 2012 after experiencing a loss of sensation and tingling in her left arm, Laura originally thought her discomfort was just in relation to a-typical battle wounds arising from playing rugby, “…doctors thought I’d trapped a nerve initially, but after under-going an MRI, a subsequent lumbar puncture and a complete medical review I was finally fully diagnosed as having relapse remittance MS.”
With MS affecting everyone differently – with symptoms ranging from fatigue and affected vision, movement, balance, eyesight and cognition – MS is a lifelong condition that affects the immune system. To understand what happens in MS, it’s useful to understand how the central nervous system works (source: www.mssociety.org.uk/what-is-ms):
“A substance called myelin protects the nerve fibres in the central nervous system, which helps messages travel quickly and smoothly between the brain and the rest of the body. In MS, your immune system, which normally helps fight off infections, mistakes myelin for a foreign body and attacks it. This damages the myelin, which disrupts messages travelling along nerve fibres – they can slow down, become distorted, or not get through at all. As well as myelin loss, there can also sometimes be damage to the actual nerve fibres themselves and it is this nerve damage that causes the increase in disability that can occur over time.”
Living with MS has been a challenge for Laura, but nothing she has ever let define her. “I always used to wonder why I felt like I had electricity running down my legs or why I was so tired but now I mostly forget about or ignore my condition. Not because I am trying to hide from it but because I don’t want to let it consume me or change who I am. I don’t want it to become an excuse or a reason for not doing something.”
A keen sportswoman from a young age Laura excelled at hockey, athletics, soccer and rugby and latterly, American Football, and whilst, gifted, it is with much conviction that she works hard to keep herself on an even keel: “I decided, once diagnosed, to make sure I was as fit as I could be and to invest time in building a good muscle structure so that I could help support my body. I believe this has helped reduce the severity and impact of the relapses I can suffer from.”
Relapses which have included partial paralysis, vision and speech impairment. “I get very tired and battle with fatigue and no matter how long I rest or sleep for these bouts of extreme tiredness don’t go away so whilst I do my best to fight it I know in the future I will need to rely more upon the help and support of others.” Which perhaps explains why the MS Society in particular is so important to Laura.
Having fund-raised previously for the national charity – who have, to date, funded £153m worth of research into causation and cures – Laura considers the effects of what fund-raising could do for her and many more like her. “If vital research is supported today maybe one day in the future we can halt the progression of what will eventually become, for many people, a debilitating disease. Contributing towards this, however I can, is hugely important to me.”
A contribution which comes as no surprise to her team-mates: “Laura is a totally committed athlete who doesn’t do anything by halves” commented Club Captain, Jo Kilby, “…as an example of how to live your life regardless of the challenges you face, well, there’s few better ambassadors than Laura.”
May we thank Laura for sharing her story and extend a big thank you to all those who do great work to support and raise awareness for MS in the UK. If you would like to find out more about MS and the Society, please visit www.mssociety.org.uk.
Main image with thanks to Gary Longstaff | © 2016 GL Photography.