The day I was diagnosed with MS, my neurologist told me that mine was the highly-active or rapidly-evolving sort. I had two choices. The usual disease modifying drugs or Alemtuzumab (Campath). It’s a drug used to treat leukaemia, and in laywoman’s terms, it strips out your immune system, killing the T-cells involved in the MS immune response.
There’s some pretty serious side-effects including a 1 in 3 chance of developing a thyroid problem, but it can halt the progression of MS for at least 10 years by reducing the number of relapses. A no-brainer for me – I was having relapse after relapse with barely time to catch my breath inbetween. It was like being thrown against a wall repeatedly. My body was battered and bruised, I couldn’t walk properly, I slept all the time and fell over a lot.
So, it was an easy choice and I know just how fortunate I was. I was lucky to be under a hospital which took part in the trials. It is still unlicensed for use with MS, but was given to me on a ‘compassionate basis’. All I wanted was to be able to see The Teenager off to university in a couple of years. I didn’t want him to be my carer, or to always be too tired to take him anywhere.
After five days in hospital, hooked up to an IV, pumped full of chemicals and steroids, I was back home without an immune system for the next few weeks. Now, four months on, a miracle has taken place. I still get tired but I don’t need to sleep the afternoon away, I haven’t fallen over, I can walk (stumble) far better than before and I just generally feel, well, normal(ish) again. I haven’t had a relapse…yet. Touch wood. Don’t walk on cracks on the pavement. I still have a whole bag of symptoms, just not all at once.
So why am I angry? Well, the makers of this wonder-drug have withdrawn it from market, in a bid to relaunch it as an MS-drug and will price it out the reach of most health authorities. Big Pharma strikes again…..
Read Sian’s brilliant blog for more information – she’s pretty angry too.