Gulf War veteran living with MS fundraises for life-changing treatment centre
PUBLISHED: 16:31 24 June 2020
A military veteran living near Ipswich with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is fundraising for his birthday to support a treatment centre which drastically improves his quality of life.
Rob Burton lives in Sproughton with his wife Haley, after living in Cyprus for more than a decade while serving in the army.
While Rob was diagnosed in 1995 with relapsing remitting MS, it has now advanced to secondary progressive MS - which is much more aggressive.
“Back in those days, there wasn’t so much known about it, so when I was first diagnosed I was pretty much sent home with just a leaflet,” he explained.
“When my symptoms first started, I had optic neuritis so I had pain and blurring in my left eye.
“It has now changed to secondary progressive, which means all of my symptoms will just get worse now and I have trouble with my legs – it’s all downhill from here.”
The 49-year-old regularly attended and volunteered at the Suffolk Oxygen Therapy Centre before lockdown, which involved sitting in a hyperbolic chamber and breathing 100% pure oxygen for an hour at a time – greatly improving his balance and symptoms.
Now categorised as a vulnerable person, he is shielding at home with his wife and can’t wait to get back to the centre which, like all charities, has been hit hard by Covid-19.
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He added: “Volunteering at the oxygen centre, I get to meet other people and the feeling of helping others is really amazing.
“It’s the chance of meeting other people like me who are just trying to carry on.”
Unfortunately for Rob, his diagnosis came just four years after he left the army - so he doesn’t qualify for a war pension, despite his debilitating condition.
He served in the army between 1988 and 1991 and took part in the Gulf War, driving trucks and tankers as well as working as a radio operator.
He then volunteered to stay on in Kuwait after the war to drive tankers of fresh water over from Saudi Arabia.
Recalling his time in the forces, Rob said: “There was a little bit of danger but it is what I was trained to do.”
The veteran only moved back to Ipswich in recent years, as his advancing MS made the heat of Cyrpus unbearable.
He is now doing pilates every day for 50 days to raise money for the centre in honour of his 50th birthday in July.
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