Stem Cell Treatment Gives Mother-of-three a New Lease of Life
After being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, Jodi Jackson was then told she was going to be spending the rest of her life in a wheelchair.
In March last year, Ms Jackson, 41, was diagnosed with MS and doctors told her she would have to use a wheelchair within the year and would be facing palliative care.
Her life has now returned to normal following pioneering Autologous Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation (AHSCT) treatment.
This stem cell treatment uses donor stem cells that are taken from bone marrow, following a course of chemotherapy.
Before being diagnosed Ms Jackson, from Barnet, North-West London, had considered herself healthy. She worked a busy job in events management and was raising three children as a single parent. That was until she started feeling numbness in her leg and slurring of her speech and muscular pain.
Following an MRI scan that highlighted that she has multiple lesions on her brain and spine, she was diagnosed with an aggressive form of MS.
“People feel sorry for me but I don’t feel sorry for myself at all,” she said. “I know it sounds ridiculous, but it was actually the best year of my life. I got my life back. I don’t have a care in the world anymore.”
More than two million people in the world are a victim to the degenerative condition that damages nerves. This damage leads to a reduction of muscle control and a loss of basic bodily functions.
Ms Jackson was unwilling to accept the diagnoses and because of an underlying blood condition, she was unable to receive normal treatment, instead Ms Jackson chose to have AHSCT at the London Bridge Hospital.
The treatment uses chemotherapy to kill the disease before carrying out the stem cell treatment.
Patients who have had the treatment see their symptoms stop in their tracks and with some cases symptoms are even reversed.
Ms Jackson explained that the processes was “incredibly tough”, with the course of chemotherapy causing her to suffer severe hallucinations, nausea, burning pain and “excruciating” mouth ulcers.
Although despite the side effects she said: “It was my greatest hope for the future and I would make the same decision again.”With treatment a huge success, just a few days after the treatment ended, Ms Jackson was able to go out trick-or-treating with her children for Halloween.
“I tried to shelter the kids from the side-effects of the treatment,” she said. “They knew Mummy was pretty poorly because obviously not having hair is a bit of a giveaway. I wanted them to understand that I didn’t have cancer because then children just assume you’re going to die. I just told them that Mummy was poorly but she would get better.”
Now six months after the stem cell treatment, Ms Jackson has seen a huge improvement in all her symptoms and is living a normal life. The treatment also cured her blood condition that may have developed into leukemia. She is now back in and the gym and is training for her first marathon in New York.
“I’m not a big runner, but before I was ill I was in the gym six days a week. Since the treatment, I’ve wanted my body to recuperate. I’m now at the six-month mark so I’m going to go back to the gym and get myself to a position where I can run a marathon. Even if it takes me ten years I will do it.”
Ms Jackson also expressed disbelief over the drug’s lack of availability. “It’s not available on the NHS even though it would save the health service millions of pounds,” she said. “But the drug companies don’t want it to be available because what it costs one person to have this treatment is just a year’s supply of drugs for the same person.”
Offering advice for other MS sufferers, she adds: “Take this treatment seriously. It really does work. Even if your neurologist says no, don’t take that as a given. Research it, speak to a hematologist, make it your business to educate yourself.
“I don’t think there are many people in the world who are diagnosed with MS and cured within six months.”
Protect Their Future Health
We believe the best stem cells to use in emerging treatments will be the patient’s own stem cells as this doesn’t require a search for a suitable donor and in turn, eliminates chances of the transplanted cells being rejected.