10 years ago, one of our best friends, Michael, was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. There is never a right way to respond to news like these, especially with the knowledge that there is no cure for a disease like this one.
Since that time, we have watched MS affect every aspect of Michael's life. MS is a progressive disease which attacks the central nervous system. Michael is classed as a relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS) sufferer and relapses can happen at any time often lasting months. A relapse in September of 2017 impacted all of Michael's motor functions - it made walking difficult, blurred his vision, caused muscle weakness, fatigue, changes in memory. Imagine waking up to that one day, not knowing how long it will last and knowing that it could happen again at any time. That is not a quality of life any of us want.
Michael has been on different medications since he was first diagnosed with MS, but currently there is no cure. And here is where we need your help.
We all know that Australia's health system is one of the best in the world, however there are some advanced treatments for MS sufferers which are not yet available here to all patients. These treatments however are already accessible in other countries and are open to patients like Michael. Results from clinical trials have demonstrated that blood stem cell transplants have had truly successful results with reducing the risk of disease progression in patients with RRMS, restoring motor function and allowing people to live normal healthy lives. This is the closest thing so far that comes close to a "cure" for this debilitating disease. The treatment is difficult and there is a long road to recovery, but the alternative is long term medication which does not stop relapse or disease progression.
Undertaking the treatment overseas comes at a significant financial cost which is why this is out of reach for so many. The funding that we are seeking your support with, covers the cost of the treatment, medically supported travel and support for the year that it will take Michael to recover and rebuild his life. The overseas treatment alone costs over $100,000AUD not to mention pre and post treatments and recovery.
Other Australian MS patients that have undertaken the treatment overseas have had incredible results. Their only word of warning and advice is to undertake the treatment sooner rather later. The longer a sufferer waits, the more irreversible damage can happen. After 10 years of looking for a way forward, Michael hopes to be undergoing the treatment by August 2019.
Michael's journey has already been a long one and any support you can provide is gratefully received. With your support, he will have the opportunity to take up a treatment that will help ensure he lives a long and healthy life, can continue to be active, work and support his family. You will be giving him a chance to beat MS.
Michael will be setting up a Facebook page where you will be able to learn a little more about his story and follow his journey. In the meantime, if you would like to read more about the treatment or the experiences of other MS patients with this treatment, please follow the links below.
Multiple Sclerosis News Today - Journal Article
Stem Cells for Autoimmune Disease - YouTube Clip
Stem cell treatment in MS - YouTube Clip
Tanja's Story - YouTube Clip
Dr Federenko on HSCT treatment - Web link / Youtube