I am an Aggie class of '16, a proud Texan who loves the mountains, and currently I'm a graduate student at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, UT. I am studying for my MS in Parks, Recreation, and Tourism, and I am working in the Outdoor Recreation, Education, and Tourism Lab in the Youth Lab with Dr. Sibthorp. I hope to start a career in outdoor education after my degree (hopefully in 2020).
I also found out in May of 2018 that I have Multiple Sclerosis, a somewhat ironic wordplay opportunity as well as a bad bit of luck as I had planned to start my MS degree in August and was unable to because of disease activity. So far, the disease has given me a tremor and slight issues with balance. I am going to fight the disease hard, because my career would really be hindered by losing my mobility. There is a procedure called HSCT (Homeopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation) which is currently in an FDA trial at Northwestern University in Chicago. It is the most promising treatment for stopping the progression of MS, and in March of 2018, I am scheduled to go to Northwestern and be evaluated by Dr. Burt, who runs the HSCT study. With hope, I will be accepted as a participant in this study and approved for the treatment.
HSCT is a hard reboot of the immune system, which is what attacks the CNS in MS patients. It is an intensive and taxing process involving 2 rounds of cyclophosphamide chemotherapy, which kills your old immune system before the stem cell transplant starts to help you rebuild your immune system. If I am approved, I hope to undertake the procedure in May of 2020. It is a very expensive procedure. It's possible that insurance MIGHT decide to cover it-- some will at Northwestern because of the reputability of the team, facility, and procedure. However, if I do not get coverage approved, it will cost about $120,000, not including my food and housing while I'm not in the hospital but need to be in Chicago. I will be undertaking a big ol' fundraising effort once I find out whether I am approved and whether I can get coverage.
All help is so very appreciated! I will do my best to keep you all updated on my appointments, approvals, and I suppose general progress with health and with school.