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Why Progress In Multiple Sclerosis Treatments Gives Me Hope

There was a time, not long ago, when multiple sclerosis (MS) was an untreatable disease. As research progressed and we learned more about the attack against myelin in the nervous system, treatments were designed specifically to change the course of disease, notably for those with relapsing-remitting MS. Since the early 1990s, when the first MS treatments became available, medications have become more effective at preventing further neurological damage and treatment options have become more plentiful. There are now more than twenty MS treatments to choose from, including some specifically approved for those with a primary progressive course. Slowing disease progression is now a reality in many cases. 

The available MS medications include pills, IV infusions, and self-administered shots. Tolerance of each medication varies from person to person so what may be the right treatment for one may not be the best for another. The ability to choose the MS medication that works best for each individual has been a game changer. In fact, current research is looking at a way to predict which drugs will work best for individual patients which could eliminate the need for trial and error in treatment. MS treatments have had a huge impact on my life with MS, and I hope that they can help others more in the future as well. 

Like many others, I waited a long time for my diagnosis. I’ve learned that MS is a unique experience for each patient, often making it difficult to pinpoint the source of the problem. After 13 years of living with MS without treatment, I felt how overwhelmingly weak I became when my disease was uncontrolled. My energy levels were completely drained, leaving me unable to walk or support my body while standing. After a trial of different MS medications and now having been on a consistent treatment for a few years, my symptoms have calmed, and I am able to participate in more activities. Of course, I still have a variety of waxing and waning symptoms as these medications cannot repair damage, but the decrease in the severity and frequency of flares has given me some of my life back. For that I am so thankful!

Knowing how greatly MS treatments have improved gives me hope on days when I’m struggling with this disease. When my body wants to collapse from exhaustion, I picture myself, and every other person with MS, participating in the activities we’ve missed out on for years. I imagine myself in the future running through a field of flowers and hiking to the top of a mountain. I see a world where MS is more deeply understood, and treatments are capable of halting disease before symptoms progress. I hope for a time when MS can be cured for those already living with the disease and prevented in those who may be at risk for developing MS in the future. I am hopeful for the future because I see how far we have already come. 

To say that I am thankful for the MS treatments we have today is an understatement. These advancements allow me to live my life and enable me to look forward to additional discoveries in the not-so-distant future. My journey with MS has taught me many things, but most importantly, it has taught me to be hopeful that progress in developing potentially life-changing MS treatments will continue in the future.

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