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The Next Chapter

By Craig Dawson, 2005 0:00 minutes

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Craig led a healthy, physically fit lifestyle until he developed multiple sclerosis (MS) at the age of 23. He shows enormous resilience in adjusting to his new life, dealing with the loss of his partner and advocating for independent housing for people with similar conditions.

Collection Sharing Stories

How would you cope with a disability?

  • After watching Craig’s story, outline his experience of illness from his first symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis to the present.

Craig does not seem bitter about his circumstances. Several times, Craig refers to himself as being ‘lucky’.

  • In what ways does he see himself as lucky?
  • In what ways do you see yourself as lucky?

On reflection, Craig concludes: “I look at my life: I’ve had 21 years of full fitness. At the same time I try to live by not looking back – at the bad things, that is. But I fail at that often.” Often we set ourselves goals or we have expectations of ourselves that we cannot always live up to. This type of disappointment is a natural part of life.

  • How do you feel when you cannot live up to your own expectations or the expectations of others?
  • How do you move on from these feelings of disappointment or failure?

Craig provides some insights into his coping strategies: “When I was first diagnosed, I made a promise that if I was ever tempted to feel sorry for myself I would get my arse down to the intensive care ward and look through the window and appreciate what I’ve got. Thankfully I haven’t had to do it yet.”

  • Do you know people who often feel sorry for themselves? How do you feel about them when you see Craig’s story?
  • If you were in the same situation as Craig, how do you think you would react? Write a list of possible emotions reflecting how you think you would react. Write another list of ways in which you hope you would react.
  • Why does Craig make this promise to himself?
  • What are the traps of feeling sorry for yourself?

Craig called his story The Next Chapter. 

  • Why does Craig always try to look forward?

“I want to encourage people who are physically disabled not to be ashamed.”

  • Why would people with physical disability be ashamed?

Craig dedicates his story to Nana Dawson.

  • Why do you think he made this dedication?
  • How might he view Nana Dawson’s life since being diagnosed with MS?

Research - multiple sclerosis

  • What is MS?
  • What are its symptoms?
  • In what age group is the onset of MS most common?