Gillian’s Hope

The most common disabling disease of young adults...

Italian philosopher and theologian Thomas Aquinas once said, "There is nothing on this earth more to be prized than true friendship.” These words apply beautifully to the friendship between Gillian Morrow and Margot Spafford, a relationship that has spanned several decades and is founded on laughter, shared experiences, and devotion. This true friendship has inspired the creation of the DMRF Gillian’s Hope Fund for MS research, an endowed fund that aims to raise $3 million to fund the hiring of an MSologist to the Maritime Provinces.  Gillian has been living with MS for over twenty years and through it all, Margot has been her dear friend.

“With advice from the DMRF, I was able to set up an endowment fund so that anybody can donate whatever they want into it, says Margot. “This option made perfect sense to me. We can fund a full-time MSologist to be consistently researching ways to treat MS.” 

Upon achieving its target, The DMRF Gillian’s Hope Fund will support the recruitment of an MSologist to our region.  As the only specialist of this kind in Atlantic Canada, the MSologist position will be dedicated 70 per cent to MS research, with the remaining time devoted to clinical work, patient and public education, and physician training.  With the strong neuroscience program that already exists at Dalhousie University, an MSologist would bring together researchers with a common interest in Multiple Sclerosis, fostering collaboration between research and clinical care - this benefits patients and their families.  

“The researchers are so passionate,” enthuses Margot. “They are so grateful. Whether you give them $100 or $50,000; they are so appreciative. It’s their life’s work.”   A dedicated supporter of medical research, Margot has been a champion of DMRF for many years.

Multiple sclerosis is the most common disabling disease of young adults – and of women in particular.  With common onset between 20 and 40 years of age, MS affects people in the prime of their lives, although it can also affect children and older people. Today, an estimated 100,000 Canadians are living with MS, with a 3:1 ratio of women to men.  Indeed, the Nova Scotia Multiple Sclerosis Integrated Database (NS MSID) Update Project found that one in every 500 Canadians will be affected by the disease. Nova Scotia has one of the highest incidents of MS in Canada - almost more than double the national average.

“When I was diagnosed, I didn’t think I would have a problem,” says Gillian, “because I thought surely they’d have a cure in a few years. But now, I’m twenty-two years into this. The research needs to take place so people like me can be free. There are a lot of people out there who are depending on this research.”  

While Gillian and Margot have shared many experiences since their friendship began in their late teens, Gillian’s Hope is an especially meaningful tribute to their bond.  “I’m overwhelmed that Margot would pick me to put her energy into,” marvels Gillian, with a smile. “She’s amazing. Three cheers to Margot.”

To find out more about Gillian’s Hope, and how to give, please contact Ms. Joanne Bath, at 902-494-1978 or email joanne.bath@dal.ca