Melbourne student diagnosed with MS after being unable to feel bra

Charley Woodcock was out at dinner last December when something very strange happened.

“I was in the middle of telling a really exuberant story and just getting really into it,” she told

“My vision just started to go a bit fuzzy and my hand started to tingle. It sort of felt like my hand was dead, so I just shook it off.”

But two weeks later Woodcock experienced another strange symptom – numbness in her chest that was so strong, she couldn’t feel the bra she was wearing.

“I couldn’t really feel anything touching me, my partner would give me a little poke here and there and I just couldn’t feel it,” she said.

“It was all the way from my collarbone down to my pelvis … it wasn’t scary, it wasn’t like, ‘Oh my god what the hell is happening to me?’ it was just like, ‘OK this is odd, let’s investigate it’.

“It sort of became a bit of a joke, rather than something nerve-racking.”

The University of Melbourne student, who is originally from Florida in the United States, went to the hospital three times in December over the puzzling symptoms, with each time doctors assuring her it was “nothing serious like MS (multiple sclerosis)”.

MS is a chronic illness where nerve damage disrupts the body’s communication with the brain.

“Doctors didn’t really think of MS immediately, because they aren’t really the symptoms you get right off the bat,” she said.

Concerned, Woodcock’s father referred her to a family friend who was a doctor and was suspicious she had MS.

Woodcock then went back to the hospital for the fourth time in the space of a month and this time was diagnosed with MS.

The diagnosis came as a relief to Ms Woodcock that she wasn’t “losing my marbles”.

“I was almost happy when I got diagnosed because in a weird way I was like, I’m not crazy,” she said.

Since the diagnosis Woodcock has been to manage her symptoms with a course of steroids and occupational therapy.

She thankfully doesn’t have numbness in her chest anymore but experiences nerve pain, especially when the student tries to run.

But Woodcock hasn’t let her discomfort stop her from competing in MS Research Australia’s The May 50K, a fundraiser that sees people walk or run 50 kilometres to raise money to find a cure for the illness.

The end of the month-long fundraiser coincides with this Sunday, which is World MS Day.

Woodcock took part in the fundraiser last year by going on runs but this time has been completing her kilometres through daily morning walks with her boyfriend.

Incredibly, not only has Woodcock tripled her pledged distance to 150 kilometres but she has also raised close to $20,000.

“It’s been a really awesome to give back to this amazing plethora of research that’s been done so that I can live a very normal life,” she said.

For now Woodcock’s life has remained somewhat normal despite her diagnosis, with the student still living in a sharehouse and studying full time.

“I just keep on carrying on, because I think the biggest thing with any disease or illness whether it’s cancer or MS or whatever it is, you can’t put your life on hold,” she said.

“You still have to keep doing the things that you are able to do or that you’re comfortable to do.”

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