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Hambden Township woman ready for fourth MS bike ride

Annette Slane loves nature and nothing will keep her from it.

Not even multiple sclerosis.

Slane, 50, was diagnosed with MS in 1998. The Hambden Township resident always had enjoyed an active lifestyle as a runner, but started noticing symptoms of MS in her eyes while playing softball. She visited various doctors before a neurologist finally made a diagnosis.

“I’ve always been physical and active, an ‘I can do it’ person,” Slane said. “That (diagnosis) for me was just a self-confidence, self-esteem damper, big time.”

At first, Slane wore an ankle foot orthosis brace and had to walk with a cane. She receives Avonex injections weekly in addition to the numerous medications she takes. Slane suffers from the most common type of MS, relapsing-remitting, which consists of flare-ups.

“There’s a whole lot of hidden symptoms with me, but I’ve overcome a lot of them,” Slane said. “...I was on so much medication and it was making me a zombie. I couldn’t think straight and my memory and concentration was bad.”

Slane began receiving Botox for her calves, which suffer cramping, but the dosage and side effects of all her medications became too much.

“It was a dark few years,” Slane’s husband, Ben, recalled. “All of a sudden, you’ve got this cloud on you and you’re not sure how it’s going to progress.”

Eight years ago, Slane received a baclofen pump implanted in her abdomen. The pump administers a smaller dose than oral medication into the spinal column, relaxing the muscles and facilitating movement.

The results made all the difference.

“That right there is a life-changer for me,” Slane said. “It has totally changed my life. I can think, I can do things. I’m very active.”

Slane’s active lifestyle now includes biking, something she couldn’t always enjoy. Four years ago, she joined a team as part of the Bike MS Buckeye Breakaway ride, formerly called Pedal 2 the Point. This year, Slane intends to participate again.

More than 2,000 participants will join the ride, a two-day event that begins Aug. 1 at Brunswick High School, 3581 Center Road in Brunswick. The ride, presented by The Andersons Inc. Charitable Foundation and hosted by the Ohio Buckeye Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, supports those who live with MS by offering services and research for a cure.

The Bike MS Buckeye Breakaway aims to raise $1.6 million for MS.

Routes of 30, 75, 100 and 150 miles are available for riders of all skill levels. Each route includes rest stops every eight to 12 miles. An overnight party with food, recreation and entertainment will be held at Ashland University.

“They really support you and really take care of you,” said Slane, who will bike the full 150 miles for the third straight year. “It builds my self-esteem and my confidence. It’s a challenge and it’s something I can do. I know people that can’t do it, but I can do it. For me, I feel like I’m giving back.”

Slane starts training for the ride in the spring once the roads clear. She averages 80 to 100 miles each week on bike paths and roads.

This year, Slane formed Team Slane with seven team members, mostly family, who will all ride with her. So far, the team has raised more than $2,000. Ben Slane will drive a support and gear vehicle to meet Annette at each rest stop, where he gives her a cooling vest soaked in ice water.

“I was hooked the first year, as soon as I rode,” Slane said. “I said, this is something I can do, for me, and I can do it.”

Team Slane also will wear special jerseys adorned with monarch butterflies. As a preschool teacher, Slane visited a park where monarchs were tagged for migration, which ignited her love for butterflies.

“After I got to catch monarchs and tag them, and saw the whole process, I was hooked,” she said.

Since then, the Slanes have spent their summers raising and tagging monarchs. They’ve raised more than 300 over the past few summers, a reflection of Annette’s growth since her diagnosis of MS.

“I’ll be active until I’m not active anymore,” she said.

Story Source: The above story is based on materials provided by NEWS-HERALD
Note: Materials may be edited for content and length

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