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10 good years.  Like so many others diagnosed with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis, it’s at the 10-year mark that life may begin to take a turn.  For a majority of us, our MS will become more progressive; more disabling; a greater hindrance…on living. 

Medicine and treatments are slowly bringing the numbers down, but this is what I’m faced with. 
I was diagnosed with MS in 1996—more than 11 years ago.

My name is David and this is my MS story.

myMSor-David+IanAfter graduating from Duke in 1994, I was commissioned as an Infantry officer in the US Army.  While in the Army, I was a Ranger and Platoon Leader in an Airborne Battalion in Vicenza, Italy.  Prior to deployment to Bosnia in late 1995, I woke up one morning with severe double-vision.  After a few months of tests, I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.   

Youth and athletic agility were all in my corner, but the physical uncertainties that come with MS were enough to end of my military career.  As a coping mechanism, I didn’t want to see or be near worse forms of MS.  My mom would send me brochures for the National MS Society; and I remember thinking, ‘that’s not for me—that’s a picture of someone in a wheelchair.’

I participated in one or two MS related events, but only when I joined the Oregon Chapter Board did I start to understand MS, its reaches, and how it truly affects so many people.  Having MS means that you may not be able to walk when you wake up; that you may suddenly go blind in one or both eyes; and when and if those abilities will return is anyone’s guess.  The symptoms of MS are different for everyone—the only certainty is that it will affect yet another person every hour of every day.

2007PacificCrest-EventPhoto2I've had plenty of exacerbations, including temporary paralysis of each arm and each leg, temporary blindness, and chronic numbness.  These exacerbations were treated with high-dose steroids.  As a result of the steroid treatments, I also suffered from a debilitating hip disease - avascular avascular necrosis of the femoral head.

Rather than have total hip replacement surgery, I went through a fairly revolutionary surgery called afree-vascularized fibular graft.  The surgery involved surgeons removing a 4-inch section of the fibula (lower leg bone) and grafting the bone to the femoral head (ball of the hip).  This grafting procedure then revascularizes the hip bone, and the previously collapsed bone grows back.  These surgeries required me to be on crutches for a full year and motivated me to get back into some challenging athletic endeavors.

My movement to end MS includes my participation in the Oregon Chapter’s Board of Trustees, chairing the Chapter’s Government Relations Committee, participating in Chapter Events, as well as a multi-sport weekend festival in Bend, OR.  I formed a team to race at Pacific Crest to increase MS awareness and raise money for MS research.  Along with 20 close friends, family and colleagues, Team DefeatMS raised more than $61,000 in our first year, donating every dollar to MS research for a cure. 

myMSor-IanKelleherDespite intermittent MS-related symptoms and my hip surgeries, I have been lucky enough to have this disease and live a very full life.  While MS has certainly affected me both physically and emotionally, I am able to do almost anything I want.  Unfortunately, not everyone with MS is so fortunate.

While I continue to challenge the notion of ’10 good years,’ I don’t really concentrate on my MS.  I’m open about it, so people call to ask questions about MS—and their own diagnosis.  Right now, my son Ian is the priority.  Putting him to bed at night; getting him ready for a new school year; coaching his soccer team—he is the reason I fight MS. 

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About Multiple Sclerosis
Multiple Sclerosis interrupts the flow of information from the brain to the body and stops people from moving.  Every hour in the United States, someone is newly diagnosed with MS, an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system.  Symptoms range from numbness and tingling to blindness and paralysis.  The progress, severity and specific symptoms of MS in any one person cannot yet be predicted, but advances in research and treatment are moving us closer to a world free of MS.  Most people with MS are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50, with more than twice as many women as men contracting the disease.  MS affects more than 400,000 people in the U.S., and 2.5 million worldwide.

About the Oregon Chapter, National Multiple Sclerosis Society
MS stops people from moving.  We exist to make sure it doesn’t.  Oregon and SW Washington have one of the highest incidence rates of MS in the country.  The Oregon Chapter services more than 7,000 individuals with MS and their families.  We help each person address the challenges of living with MS; fund more MS research, provide more services to people with MS, offer more professional education and further more advocacy efforts than any other MS organization in the world.  The Oregon Chapter h

as been dedicated to achieving a world free of MS since 1963.  We are people who want to do something about MS now.  Join the movement at http://www.defeatms.com/.

Studies show that early and ongoing treatment with an FDA-approved therapy can reduce future disease activity and improve quality of life for many people with multiple sclerosis. Talk to your health care professional and contact the National MS Society at http://www.defeatms.com/ or 1-800-344-4867 to learn about ways to help manage multiple sclerosis and about current research that may one day reveal a cure.