Taking control of an incurable disease
Two years ago, a phone call changed twenty-five-year-old Amanda Martinez’s life. The results of her medical tests indicated a high possibility that she had developed multiple sclerosis (MS), a debilitating disease that, according to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, has no definitive cause.
“My heart dropped when I heard the news . . . when I found out this has no cure,” Amanda said.
Before that day, Amanda had experienced an array of symptoms, including dizziness, blurred vision, and numbness in her extremities; but, until then, her disease had been a mystery. “They checked everything,” she said. “I was tested for diabetes, thyroid, blood sugar levels . . . but no one knew what was going on.”
Then one day Amanda overheard a young woman with MS explaining the disease to a friend. “She didn’t look any older than twenty-five and was already in a wheelchair,” recalled Amanda. “I listened, and the symptoms sounded so similar to what I’d been experiencing. So that night I went home and Googled it. It was everything that I had.”
Shortly after, Amanda asked her doctor to run tests to see if she was positive for MS. She was.
“The results of the MRI showed that my brain was riddled with lesions,” Amanda said. “At that point, my heart just stopped. It’s so scary to go through the MRI process—in my case, multiple times so far—and not know what’s going on with your body. Knowing the disease is not curable and not knowing what you’re going to go through day after day—it’s heartbreaking.”
Knowing that she and others must live with MS has prompted Amanda to spread knowledge and awareness of the disease. Today, she regularly organizes runs, bowling nights, and other excursions through the National Multiple Sclerosis Society to raise money for further research and awareness.
Until there’s a cure, Amanda will have to live with multiple sclerosis, but so far the daily Copaxone injections she gives herself have been working wonders to help stave off the disease. Since beginning treatment, she has developed only one small lesion.
“After hearing that I had MS, I went through a horrible low point for six months, but now I’m proud to say that I own my illness,” said Amanda. “I’m taking an effective medicine, and I love how I feel right now, illness or not. It can only get better from here.”
For more information, visit www.nationalmssociety.org