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Timothy L. Vollmer, MD
Department of Neurology
University of Colorado Health Sciences Center Professor

Co-Director of the RMMSC at Anschutz Medical Center

Medical Director-Rocky Mountain MS Center
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Multiple Sclerosis Institute
Center for Neurological Disorders

Associate Professor Neurology and Neuroscience,

Weill Medical College of Cornell University

Clinical Attending in Neurology,
New York-Presbyterian Hospital
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Timothy L. Vollmer M.D.
Department of Neurology
University of Colorado Health Sciences Center
Co-Director of the RMMSC at Anschutz Medical Center
Medical Director-Rocky Mountain MS Center

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YOUR STORY: Help me fight my MS diagnosis

The Ward family including Olivia, Mick, Bailey, Fiona and Zac need the community's help to raise vital funds to send Fiona to Mexico for a life-changing operation. Photo Contributed

AS MANY of you know, and for those who don't, I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) five years ago.

This debilitating condition is a disease where the immune system gets confused and attacks its own central nervous system, destroying myelin sheath, the protective coating for our nerves, thus interrupting communications throughout the CNS.

I can overcome this, I thought; I have to conquer this.

I have a loving husband, three adorable children (Bailey 5, Olivia 3, and Zachary 9 months.

For a while, my symptoms were quiet and daily injections of MS treatment seemed to be holding this beast back.

Fast forward to 2013, the beast returned and I was forced to retire from Queensland Police after 14 years. In the past year I have declined greatly. I use a cane and a walker for daily activities and a wheelchair for major outings; MS has increasingly diminished my quality of life with my beautiful family. There is a lot of planning just for regular outings that I used to take for granted, such as walking the kids to school, going to sports days, going to the beach. Despite these obstacles I remain hopeful, as through extensive research, a ray of hope has been found: HSCT (autologous hematopoietic stem cell transplant).

While this procedure is being trialled in Australia, it is still at least 10 to 15 years away from being offered as a treatment option for MS. This is currently the only scientifically demonstrated and confirmed treatment for stopping this beast. This is my best chance to stop the progression and regain my life and independence. As the procedure is yet to be approved in Australia, I have sought treatment overseas.

I have found a reputable medical facility where I have been approved to have the HSCT treatment.

However, my health provider will not pay for this costly procedure as it is outside Australia. My husband Mick and I will therefore be required to pay for the total cost of the HSCT therapy, which is very expensive. The estimated cost for this treatment, follow-up care and travel will be upwards of $100,000. This is not a new medical procedure, it has been performed millions of times all around the world since the 1960s for cancer treatment. It involves chemotherapy, so the treatment is both uncomfortable and expensive - medical insurance will not yet cover it for treatment of an autoimmune disorder. The procedure will be over five weeks in Mexico and will entail harvesting stem cells, using ultra strength chemo to deplete the remaining cells and then an infusion of stored stem cells in an effort to "reboot" the immune system, helping to halt the symptoms of MS from progressing. I have been determined to do more than simply accept my tragic fate. I have chosen not to sit idly by and suffer from a lifelong, incurable beast. This disease historically only progresses downward. I will fight.

The process is quite an ordeal but I am positive that the process is worth it and will stop my MS in its tracks.

I have created a Go Fund Me fundraising site because this procedure is not covered by the Australian health care system and is quite expensive. I am not the type of person who asks for help but we cannot afford to pay for this treatment on our own and still support and nurture our young family.

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

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