Michelle's MS Mission

If you know my family at all, you know we're terrible at asking for help when we need it. However, it has finally gotten to the point that we can't do it alone.

My Aunt Michelle has always been an extremely active person. From the time that she was able to work she was donating her time and passion for animals to the zoo, to ranches, everywhere.

She's always been very interested in fitness and health, and even competed in body building competitions as an adult.

It's how she met her husband of 26 years, John.

She and John have always had an extremely deep compassion and love for animals. They've always adopted the slightly 'broken' ones, ones that many would have just put down instead or not picked as their own. Anyone that visited her house saw that it was filled with abandoned cats, horses that had seizures, dogs with missing or extremely damaged legs.

That's Quaker. He was abandoned in the field across from Michelle and John's house during an ice storm. He was at least 500 pounds underweight, and had broken knees. They took him in and gave him all the love they could.

On March 1st, 2006, Michelle was diagnosed with Primary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis (PPMS). Around 80-90% of those that have MS are diagnosed with Relapsing-Remitting MS, which involves distinct periods of pain and difficulty with movement followed by periods with no symptoms. PPMS has no such moments of reprieve; it gets steadily worse without halting.
In Michelle's words:

"At first I had only a slight limp with a mild drop foot, I hardly noticed it. Ten years later I’m in a wheelchair and unable to do much and now my hands are getting worse, and it won’t be long before I won’t be able to do anything at all. I put on a brave face but the prospect of being completely helpless is intolerable to me, so the idea of something that may be able to help gives me hope, something I haven’t had in a long time.

It started with my right foot, then it progressed up until the leg doesn’t work at all, the left leg is catching up fast, my buttocks has lost feeling and now my arms and hands are starting. There is a lot of pain.

How do I feel? Defeated. I have never been a quitter. Whenever I’ve been hurt, like when I broke my back, I’d work hard to overcome it {physical therapy, exercise etc.} But I can’t work my way out of this one, believe me I’ve tried. There is no way for me to explain how this is affecting me both physically and emotionally. I have been such a physically active person my whole life to have this happening to my body is beyond devastating."

She started with daily interferon shots, then went to weekly intramuscular shots. They are meant for relapsing MS but they didn’t have anything for progressive at the time, and because there were so few progressive patients they didn’t research it. They finally did develop a medication specifically for progressive which she has taken daily for more than a year, without any improvement. She also has restless leg syndrome, which very often goes along with MS, and takes meds 4 times a day for that, as well as anti-inflammatory meds and meds for pain.

Why are we asking for assistance now?

Recently, Michelle was approved for a stem cell transplant. The procedure takes the body's own skin cells and transforms them into stem cells, then places them where they are needed: for Michelle largely her legs.

StemGenics has several offices around the country and has been in business for years. Michelle and John personally know someone who has received treatment from them. It's not a miracle procedure, but it should help to stop the advancement of the MS and potentially grant her some use of her legs back. For Michelle: "Any improvement would be fantastic. Even if it only slows or halts the progression it would be great."

The procedure is $30,000, but Michelle and John have saved up for part of the procedure themselves. This remaining $20,000 would be used for the procedure, and any extra would go to traveling expenses, as it's extremely painful for Michelle to travel using most methods.

Why is this important to us?

Michelle has a heart of gold. She's the one that accompanied my sister and I to nearly every riding lesson, every vaulting lesson (gymnastics on horseback, that's her making sure we don't fall):

She has always put her entire heart and soul into helping animals and being a wonderful, sweet person. She's also the person that introduced my sister and I to salted butter on toast, something I think my mother will never forgive her for. I can't imagine how painful it has been for her to lose her mobility after always being so fit and healthy, but she's never stopped finding new ways to keep doing what she loves.

Here is she is, refusing to let me help, as usual.

This money would give Michelle the chance to use her legs again and, more importantly, give her hope.

The diagnosis was damning, but she's not giving up, and neither is anyone that loves her. Please help us reach this goal.

Thank you,

Alicia, Michelle's niece





  • Carrie and Scott Hogan
    • $200 
    • 7 yrs

Organisator und Spendenbegünstigter

Alicia Mmkay
Buckley, WA
Michelle Witkowski

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