One of TV’s Coronation Street’s most popular characters, Johnny Connor, has recently been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS), which features in the storyline between him and fiancée Jenny Bradley.
Johnny confides in his daughter, Kate, but feels unable to tell Jenny about his diagnosis, so calls off their wedding, as he doesn’t want to be a burden to her in the future.
As MS Research points out, this is quite a common reaction, as the fear of losing independence and the capability to live a full and active life can put huge pressure on relationships.
The charity also says that people close to somebody with MS may fail to recognise the more “hidden” characteristics of the condition, such as extreme fatigue, and this can cause conflict. However, it points out that successful, warm and positive relationships are more the norm than dramatic breakups.
That said, the pressures of living with a long-term unpredictable condition like MS cannot be ignored and all MS organisations recognise the need for support and the value of care both in the medical context and in the wider community.
MS Research said it hopes that the storyline involving Johnny, Kate and Jenny serves to raise awareness of the daily concerns of those living with MS and their support networks and sympathetically deals with a patient’s journey from diagnosis to acceptance.
Actor Richard Hawley, who plays Johnny, said he has been working with the MS Society to make the plot realistic, adding that it has taught him to enjoy the present and be more “engaged with life”.
There are an estimated 120,000 people in the UK diagnosed with MS, which can affect the brain and/or spinal cord, causing a wide range of potential symptoms, including problems with vision, arm or leg movement, sensation or balance.