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“They can do WHAT now?!”

“They can do WHAT now?!”

04 Nov 11:00 by Matt Alder

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…has been my regular reaction to the latest discoveries, treatments and advances in technology that I read about every day as I attempt to build my knowledge of the mind blowing world of drug discovery. 

Since joining Next Phase Recruitment back in July I have come to realise just how much work is going into trying to treat and cure a massive range of ever morphing diseases, and I’ve been wanting to align myself with a charitable organisation that is helping to beat one of these horrible illnesses.

But how to choose one charity to support? Its been such a tough decision that I’ve decided I’m going to concentrate on supporting one charity for a year, and then decide whether to keep supporting them or focus on another charity the following year.

Now I need to pick a charity. People usually align themselves with a charity that helps with diseases that have affected either themselves or family and friends. I have done that, but I also wanted to be involved with a charity where some of the treatments scientists and doctors are discovering and using are truly amazing.

So….drum roll please….The charity I have decided to support for 2020 is…....... The MS Society.

100,000 people live with multiple sclerosis in the UK. MS is a neurological condition, which means it affects the nerves. People get it when their immune system isn’t working properly. People can get MS symptoms in many parts of the body, meaning everyone’s MS is different. 

New treatments are being developed all the time, but the treatment that really staggered me was the one that my good friend Lucy got back in 2017.

Lucy was diagnosed with relapsing, remitting MS (RRMS) back in 2014 after first experiencing the symptoms in October 2013. RRMS meant that she would have episodes of symptoms which would then get better. 60% of people with RRMS will go on to be progressive where symptoms get worse and worse. Symptoms range widely from person to person. Lucy’s main issues were fatigue, brain fog, loss of words and weakness in her left hand. 

In September 2014, almost a year after her fist relapse. Lucy stopped being able to feel her legs. After being put on a treatment of really strong drugs, Lucy went over two years without a relapse. But she didn’t want to sit around and wait for the next bout of symptoms to floor her again, so she decided to take drastic action.

Lucy underwent Haematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT), an intense chemotherapy treatment for MS. It aims to stop the damage MS causes by wiping out and then regrowing your immune system, using your stem cells.

When you actually break down what the treatment involves, it’s insane! Lucy had her stem cells harvested before they had chance to develop MS. She was then given huge doses of chemotherapy to wipe out her immune system, and then given her stem cells back to grow a brand-new immune system, all in the space of 28 days in a clinic in Mexico.

The treatment is obviously intense, invasive and expensive, but for someone with Lucy’s credentials (early 30’s, low disability, shorter length of time since diagnosis, having only been on one drug) it had been shown to be 95% effective.

I saw Lucy a few weeks ago and I am pleased to say she feels like a new person (with a new immune system)! I will be interviewing Lucy about her experience soon for my next article as I find out more about MS and how I can help the MS Society over the next year..so stay tuned!