#inyourfaceMS This hashtag is one of the favourites used by Bree-Arne Manley.  Bree-Arne was diagnosed at 19 with Multiple Sclerosis (MS).  Since then, this remarkable young woman from Point Lonsdale has seized the day and has not let her disability deprive her of any opportunity to live life to the fullest.

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“MS reared its ugly head just after I finished school.  The diagnosis smacked me in the face like a brick wall.  I was way too young to deal with it.”

Initially the disease affected her vision and she states that “I coped by denying I had MS.”  It wasn’t until she started to lose the use of her legs that she was forced to deal with the reality.  She “couldn’t hide it anymore”.

When her legs became affected Bree-Arne bought herself a walking stick.  “I didn’t want an old person’s stick” she says proudly, instead choosing an intricately carved stick with two cobras winding around a blue glass orb.  Inside it hides a barrel where a sword can sit but she laughs and explains that this was removed by customs.
She laughs a lot; her energy is infectious.

Her main passion is music and she possesses a truly remarkable talent. She sings, plays the guitar and keyboard.  Bree-Arne has worked as a busker, played solo, in bands and participated in many open-mic nights on the Bellarine and Surf Coast over the years.  Creativity has been a lifeline for Bree-Arne as well as her strong faith in God and the support and love from her family and friends.

She met her husband Lachlan, a photographer and fellow musician, through the music scene and they got to know each other jamming together and playing in a Reggae band.   Music sits at the core of this family although this has had to take a bit of a back seat since the arrival of their two beautiful boys Jayden (4 years) and Daniel (2 years).  Birthing and breastfeeding these gorgeous boys has meant a few set-backs with Bree-Arne’s MS including some loss of sensitivity in her fingers and toes.  This is one of the many challenges of MS but a challenge that Bree-Arne handles with grit and grace.

Now that the boys are growing up, her focus is on building up her strength again to be able to tackle more creative projects and to refocus on her music.

Her advice for anyone who is finding life a challenge is; “Don’t just go to work, come home, go to bed, and not do anything on the weekend because you are too tired.  Learn as much as you can.  Go on adventures.  There is always something to do in relation to your abilities.  The only person holding you back from achieving what you want is yourself, and the law (she laughs). And have hope.”

Do yourself a favour, have a listen to Bree-Arne’s music on YouTube or

She has also written a book titled ‘Hope’ which is available for purchase on Amazon.

Story: Victoria Downey. Photo: Lachlan Manley Photographer