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SportThe Brisbane Heat star hitting MS for six

15:31  11 january  2019
15:31  11 january  2019 Source:   brisbanetimes.com.au

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The Brisbane Heat star hitting MS for six© Supplied. Jemma Barsby ,23, refuses to let her condition stop her from doing what she loves.

Professional cricket star Jemma Barsby was just 19 years old when she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.

The Brisbane Heat all-rounder had been training for the inaugural Women's Big Bash League when she got a bit of shoulder pain.

And then her fingers went numb.

"It was a shock at the time. I thought it was just a shoulder injury," Barsby said.

"Like most Australians, I didn't know what MS was, so to be told you have it was pretty daunting.

“When I was first diagnosed with MS, I second-guessed everything I was doing at cricket. I thought I may no longer be able to play cricket, but I was determined to not let MS affect what I loved," she said.

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The Brisbane Heat star hitting MS for six© AAP/Dave Acree Jemma Barsby bowls during the Women's Big Bash League (WBBL) match between the Brisbane Heat and the Adelaide on January 5.

MS is a condition of the central nervous system, interfering with nerve impulses in the brain, spinal cord and optic nerves.

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Brisbane Heat BH BH. 164/7. Sydney Sixers SS SS. Melb Stars won by 7 wickets (with 13 balls remaining). WBBL. Melbourne Stars Women MS -W MS -W. "Whenever anybody gets hit in the head, your immediate concern is for the person, and I was worried Andrew had hurt himself," Raval said.

It has no cure.

Heat often exacerbates symptoms, so being on a cricket pitch for hours in the middle of summer can be debilitating.

Barsby, now 23, said she experiences fatigue and pins and needles in her hands and down her legs.

"If I am on the field and it is really hot and I feel symptoms coming on I just whip on a neck cooler to reduce my body temperature then when I come off the field I put an ice vest straight on," she said.

"A couple of years on, I have learnt how to manage and control my MS the best I can and I’m still able to play cricket and do what I love."

Barsby said she was "one of the lucky ones" who only had a mild case of the condition.

MS Queensland general manager Karen Quaile said most people imagine someone in a wheelchair when they think of someone with the condition.

"She is a remarkable young lady. It is great to see someone with MS continuing to do the things they love," she said.

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“Imagine taking a hot shower, and as a result you lose your vision or collapse. Or, imaginenot being able to enjoy a day at the beach with family because it could result in you losingyour ability to walk.

"These nightmarish experiences are the reality for some people living with MS," Ms Quaile said.

Barsby is the daughter of former Queensland Bulls opening batsman Trevor Barsby.

"I have been playing cricket pretty much since the day I could walk," she said.

"There is a photo with my dad and brother on the day dad retired and instead of getting in the photo I went straight for the cricket ball, so I was always destined to play cricket.

"Pretty much my whole family has played cricket so I was brought up with it. There was definitely no pressure for me to play, they said if you enjoy it play it and if you don't there are no hard feelings."

She has played cricket for for Queensland Fire since 2010 and Brisbane Heat since the team's inaugural season in 2015-16.

"It is definitely still that pinch yourself moment where people are starting to recognise me and little girls are starting to come to cricket games now wanting your autograph and photos so it is pretty cool," Barsby said.

"Hopefully it keeps going and women's cricket becomes more professional."

The Brisbane Heat play the Sydney Thunder in their final WBBL regular season match at Cazaly's Stadium in Cairns at 6.15pm on Saturday.

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