A Fragile Hold

Living with Multiple Sclerosis and other Uncertainties

New Release »

When Ruth Cotton walked out of her neurologist’s office in 1997 with a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis, her life changed irrevocably. At the peak of her career and with three children still at home, all she could think of were the uncertainties – especially whether she’d become wheelchair-bound.

But Ruth continued her full, active life and it wasn’t until her retirement that multiple sclerosis exacted its greatest toll – slowly taking her balance and mobility. In 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic confined Ruth indoors, news came that her husband’s cancer – melanoma, diagnosed years before – was accelerating.

Overwhelmed by a sense of life’s fragility, Ruth turned to writing to make sense of it all. Giving close attention to her immediate environment, and recording what she sees, hears, and feels, a more mindful way of being and thinking unfolds. Ruth discovers her life need not be defined by what she can’t do, but by what she can. A Fragile Hold reveals with warmth and unflinching honesty the daily, intimate scenes of a life with multiple sclerosis.


https://ruthcotton.com.au/contact/Publication 17 February 2023
$29.95 (print) $6.99 (EPUB)
Lightleaf Press
326 pages

ISBN: 978-0-6481286-1-8 (print) 978-0-6481286-2-5 (ebook)

A Fragile Hold can be ordered through Amazon and other online bookstores. If you have difficulties purchasing, please get in touch via the CONTACT page on this website. 

Check out local media coverage, including a podcast interview, at the What’s New page.

What people are saying

Ruth Cotton is, above all, a writer of ideas, an open-minded lover of all things human and struggling, a prose poet of our inner lives. While Ruth has multiple sclerosis, it is her humanity that triumphs in this remarkable book.

Stephen Wallace AM, film director and writer

If we’re lucky, some of us will meet someone like Ruth Cotton. If we’re really lucky, we’ll pause our own busy lives long enough to listen. I share Ruth’s love of the history of our village of Hamilton, its presence evoked often in this poignant reminder to live fully.

Carol Duncan, Councillor, City of Newcastle and founder of Lost Newcastle

Ageing with MS is a concept that is under- researched and often ignored, and Ruth writes about this openly with a wonderful sense of humour, curiosity and a healthy dose of pragmatism.

Meticulously researched and beautifully written, insights from Ruth’s life living with uncertainty gives the reader facts about MS, and many subtle ways to tweak life with MS to gain the most value and maintain wellness. As Ruth says, life need not be defined by what she is unable to do, but by what she can do. As an MS Nurse, I find this is one of the hardest things to teach and impart to patients, and the way Ruth’s words gently remind of us this throughout the book is outstanding.

Her willingness to share so much of herself with openness and exposure is healing, for both Ruth and for the reader. A must read for people with MS, neurological diseases, chronic illness and for anyone who loves their family and has survived COVID-19. That is all of us!

This is living with MS, in all its uncertainty, unpredictability and direct and indirect effects on every aspect of life.

Dr Therese Burke AM, Clinical Platform Coordinator, MS Australia