Ask Jemma Barsby what her toughest on and off field challenge she’s faced as a cricketer is and she won’t tell you it’s the pressure of being a professional athlete.
She won't tell you it was bowling or batting for Brisbane Heat or the Perth Scorchers in the Women's Big Bash League, either.
Her biggest challenge? Being diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) at only 19 years of age.
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a chronic disease that attacks the central nervous system (the brain, spinal cord, and optic nerves). It is estimated that over 25,600 people in Australia are living with MS.
A teenager at the time, preparing for her and the WBBL's inaugural season in 2015, the all-rounder noticed shoulder pain at a training camp. Soon after, her fingertips became numb and pins and needles developed down her spine
Only weeks after this pain came to light, Barsby underwent testing that confirmed her biggest fear at the time- an MS diagnosis.
The now 25-year-old recounts the exact moment she was told of her diagnosis.
"I was alone. It was a Thursday afternoon and I saw the team doctor. The worst I thought would be a shoulder reconstruction," Barsby began.
"The first thing she [doctor] said to me was 'we're still going to be friends, right?' and I'm like 'yeah?' I knew when she said that, it would be something pretty serious."
The diagnosis left Barsby fearful, but also confused, as she had no idea what she was actually detected to have.
"I actually didn't know what MS was. And to still have my career and aspirations, it was quite scary," she admitted.
"Doctor Google shows you the worst of things, so it was a rough couple of days."
But, with the help of her neurologist, Queensland Cricket and Cricket Australia, Barsby was relieved to get the answers she needed, allowing her to still pursuit a professional cricketing career and lead a relatively normal life.
"I realised I had it quite mild, so I could be physical while listening to my body to get through."
The Kiss Goodbye to MS Ambassador admits that at times MS is not kind, but she is 'one of the lucky ones', constantly supported by her loved ones and her playing associations, who took the time to understand her diagnosis.
"I had my family there all along, making sure we were open and honest about how we were feeling. I had the support of Queensland Cricket and Cricket Australia during that time too."
"It was about me letting people in, getting the help required.
"Usually I put everyone else first before myself. When it came to putting myself first it was uncomfortable but the right thing to do."
In light of the anticipated registration this month of Australia's first at home, self-administered B-cell therapy (Kesimpta) by Novartis Australia, for Australian adults with relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis (RMS), Barsby encourages those with MS to do the little things to keep their bodies moving.
"I'm trying to use as much profile as I have to spread the word and help people worse off than me."
"I get my Vitamin D, stay active and eat as well as I can, because if you don't get out and exercise, they've found your body starts to shut down."
Clinical and Academic Neurologist Dr John Parratt attests that in addition to Barsby's self-treatments, the new Kemsimpta B-Cell therapy is a new treatment.
"Having access to a range of highly effective treatments has transformed the lives of young people living with MS. These medications not only prevent inflammation and damage occurring to the nervous system but also improve wellbeing. These people can live very active lives without concern for episodes of MS or relapses and many fewer symptoms," Dr Parratt said.
Barsby's advice on a more personal level is to find the positives and surround yourself with those who lift you up.
"Still get out there and live your life and that hopefully can slow down the process."
At 25 years old, Barsby leads an incredibly healthy and inspiring life. She's currently playing for the South Australian Scorpions Cricket Club at club level and is excited to return to professional level in a few months.
Upon reflection, Jemma Barsby knows that MS is not an easy challenge.
But she also knows that if she can help one person experiencing this, she's done her job. That means more than any wicket or any catch she'll ever take on the cricket pitch.
"Don't take life for granted. Appreciate what you have and the little things," she said.
"Your life can change at any moment and you don't want to regret anything along the way."