Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic an incurable disease that attacks the central nervous system and therefore affects the brain, the spinal cord and the optic nerves. This further leads to muscle weakness and spasms, great pain, insomnia and fatigue, numbness, difficulties with balance, dizziness, vertigo, visual problems, problems to focus and remembering and some more. People suffering from MS can lose their motoric abilities and will apparently will not be able to continue their jobs. This goes hand in hand with uncertainty of the future and depression. The progress of this disease, as well as the offered therapies to slow down the progression, differs for each individual and cannot be predicted.
I suffer from Secondary progressive MS (SPMS), a faster progressing phase of MS, characterized by even greater nerve damage/loss. I was given three different therapies, of which none helped to slow down my progression and my depression grew. Not giving up, I did some researching by myself and I found a different kind of approach to my disease – a stem cell therapy! To be more accurate: a Hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT).
Please allow me to introduce myself: My name is Markus Edelbacher and I am from a beautiful country in Europe called Austria. I live in a small village in the countryside and when I grew up, I followed in my father’s footsteps and became a butcher and the owner of a restaurant. My job required immense physical strength, physical and mental resilience, excellent organization skills and patients. As you can imagine it was not an easy job, but nonetheless, I loved what I was doing and what I had achived. And believe it or not: even after a hard day of working, I still would go out for a run – because that was what I really enjoyed doing and what I miss the most.
Because of my hard job, I often felt tired and at bad days, my feet would hurt so much that I couldn't stand nor walk. Little did I know, I was already suffering from MS. With these symptoms getting worse, I went to see a specialist and I was finally diagnosed with MS at the age of 46. After diagnosis, my MS rapidly got worse and I eventually had to give up on everything I had built in my profession I am in my early 50's now and I already need a rollator to move and even with this, walking is hard and exhausting. As if this wasn't enough, my son got diagnosed with the same disease at the age of 23 and I am scared for his future life.
With all therapies failed, broken hopes and with my son in mind, I took initiative and research the world wide web for everything related to MS therapies. Like many countries in Europe, stem cell therapy is forbidden and accordingly, Austrian doctors are quite negative towards this topic. I came across a therapy that could change the lives of millions of people suffering MS - a hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) at the Pirogov Hospital in Moscow to STOP multiple sclerosis! This therapy involves a chemotherapy and the transplantation of hematopoietic stem cells.
I was so happy and excited when my application got accepted (April 2018), but unfortunately, I don't get supported by Austrian healthcare. I don't feel good asking for money from people who never met me before and who (until now) didn't even know that there is this person in a small village in the middle of nowhere, suffering from some kind of disease. However, I will still ask you kindly, to support me through my journey. I will offer updates on my therapy as well as on my recovery. I also want to spread awareness for my fellow MS fighters, that there could be something that finally could defeat this disease.