Heather Byrnes, Multiple Sclerosis (MS) clinical trial participant, Wesley

On 15 March, 2002, I was diagnosed with MS and my world changed immediately.  From being an active physical person all my life, I was on a journey to being physically challenged in the use of my right leg and right hand. 

My neurologist has treated me with the latest of drugs to delay my progression and in November 2014 told me about a trial for a new drug.  She explained the drug was developed in New Zealand and targets a different set of immune cells, called myeloid cells, than other drugs currently in clinical trials. I may be a suitable candidate. 

After reading everything about the trial and talking to my family, I decided to participate.  This was an opportunity for me to help slow down my progression of MS and improve my lifestyle.  Most importantly, if it helped me, it will help many others in the future, in the world’s journey to find a reason and a cure for MS.

After undergoing many clinical trial specific assessments to ascertain if I was eligible, including MRIs, blood sampling and physical and cognitive testing, I commenced the trial in early February 2015.  I also was the first candidate for the WSARI team and they have a very strict protocol to follow.  This journey was going to take over 12 months, with weekly infusions of the drug and vitals checked, monthly blood collections and ECGs, and three monthly full testing again to measure any changes in my status.

I have noticed small changes so far, being able to move my foot a little more is a giant leap in my journey to stay upright, walk without aids, reduce falls, be more independent and live at home.

I am grateful for all the help I have had on my MS journey over the last 13 years, from family, friends, doctors, nurses, physiotherapists, OTs, podiatrists, pharmacists and assistance from all levels of government. 

If your specialist recommends for you to be part of a clinical trial, grab the opportunity, as firstly it may help you, it will not cost you anything, except time, and you will be participating in research for a cure and prevention of your disease, right now or in the future.