Messages of support flood in for Golriz Ghahraman - from Helen Clark to Judith Collins

Messages of support are flooding in for Golriz Ghahraman, from Helen Clark to Judith Collins, following the Green MP's revelation she has multiple sclerosis (MS). 

Ghahraman, a former human rights lawyer who became an MP in 2017, revealed to The Project on Wednesday she had been diagnosed with the condition, which affects the nervous system. 

Speaking to The Project's Kanoa Llyod, the 39-year-old said she feels a responsibility to spark an open and honest conversation about the condition, which can cause vision loss, fatigue and impaired coordination. 

"Today is the first time I spoke publicly about life with MS," Ghahraman, a list MP, wrote on Twitter. "I've learned so much about the community, equality and access to care.

"Mostly, it showed me how strong and capable the MS and broader disability community really are - and the importance of our sight to representation."

Messages of support have been pouring in for the MP, who arrived in New Zealand at the age of nine as a refugee and went on to earn a Master's degree at Oxford University in International Human Rights. 

Former Prime Minister Helen Clark tweeted to her more than 200,000 followers telling Ghahraman how she admires her courage and wishes her "all the best". 

National MP Judith Collins described the news as "very sad", tweeting: "All support to Golriz."

Messages of support flood in for Golriz Ghahraman - from Helen Clark to Judith Collins

The Refugee Council described Ghahraman as a "champion", tweeting a message of support to its followers: "Your strength and leadership are an inspiration to us all."

The Green Party showered Ghahraman with encouragement, with messages of support from co-leaders James Shaw and Marama Davidson, as well as her fellow MPs. 

"So proud of you Golriz, and proud to have you in our green whānau," Shaw said. "The work you do continues to be as incredible and as inspiring as ever. I cannot think of a better role model for others diagnosed."

Davidson tweeted to her 18,000 followers: "Kia kaha Golriz so proud of you!"

Green MP Chlöe Swarbrick described her colleague as "that strong, thriving role model that I came into Parliament with two and a half years ago, and now she's telling more of her story on her terms". 

One Twitter user described Ghahraman as a "wahine toa full of integrity, bravery and humour", while others thanked her for sharing her story. 

Ghahraman thanked the Green Party whānau for their "incredible support, and for always treating me as an equal".

MS is an illness which can be treated but there is currently no cure. It's a condition where the immune system attacks the protective layer around nerve fibres causing inflammation, making it hard for the brain to send signals to the body. 

Ghahraman told The Project she is currently on the "most hardcore" medication and has to visit the hospital every six months for a five-hour infusion of medicine.

Back in January, Ghahraman tweeted her praise for nurses and doctors for the treatment she received during a short stay in hospital.

She said in a Twitter post at the time that healthcare is a "human right" because "equality of access is what love looks like in public".  

The Government announced in October 2019 that a new treatment for MS, Ocrevus, would be funded for certain patients by Pharmac, but concerns were raised about the "strict" treatment access criteria.