‘I approached my 50th birthday unable to balance or speak’ – Telegraph.co.uk

By NEVAGiles23

I didnt want it to affect my job as a BBC correspondent covering religious affairs. But in 2015 I went numb down one side of my body for several weeks. A scan showed multiple lesions, and a specialist confirmed I had relapsing-remitting MS. It felt like a life sentence. My family wasnt surprised wed long known it was a possibility. No tears were shed; my parents are of the stiff-upper-lip generation.

The next drug failed to stop another relapse. I wanted to keep reporting for as long as possible, but last September I finally stepped down frommy job, and my bosses helped me find other options involving less travel and with more predictable hours.

My MS seemed to be moving from relapsing-remitting to secondary progressive, as my body became less able to repair the brain damage caused by each relapse. So, after months of research, I decided to take a risk and have an autologous hematopoietic stem cell transplant (HSCT) a chemotherapy treatment that wipes out then regrows your immune system at a private clinic in Mexico.

HSCT has long been used to treat blood cancers, but its use in autoimmune diseases like MS is still undergoing trials. It destroys the malfunctioning cells thought to be responsible for damaging the myelin sheath, while stem cells harvested from your bone marrow are given back to shorten your time without a working immune system.

HSCT holds the most promise for people having regular MS attacks and its now offered to some MS patients at a few NHS hospitals in England under tight criteria. I didnt qualify, but I met several others who had been helped by it.

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'I approached my 50th birthday unable to balance or speak' - Telegraph.co.uk

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