A mum whose life was turned upside down four years ago when she was diagnosed with MS is hoping a new treatment could give her old life back.
Zoe Derrick has described the possibility of getting a treatment that works as a “light at the end of the tunnel”, but she needs to raise at least £35,000 to travel to Moscow for the hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) as it is not available on the NHS.
So far, all attempts to treat the 36-year-old’s condition with drugs have only made her symptoms worse meaning all she can do is wait anxiously for her next relapse.
Zoe, of Coppice Drive, Billinge, said: “We, my husband Paul and I, had been talking about HSCT for about two years and I asked my neurologist about it and he said forget about it.
“They are doing trials for it in the UK but to qualify your lesions have to be active. My brain is covered in these lesions but they won’t become active again until I have a relapse.
“That could be in two years or ten years. And the thing is the MS will continue to progress, so even if it is 10 years before I have a relapse that could leave me in a wheelchair.
“With HSCT, they remove your stem cells then you have chemotherapy to wipe out your immune system before they put the stem cells back in without the MS.
“From the research I have done, the treatment has got rid of people’s symptoms when they have had it, but if the MS has already caused you to develop a disability it would not reverse that.”
Zoe explained how she began having problems with her right side in 2012 and was told that she probably had MS a short time later but they needed to wait for her to relapse before being able to confirm it.
She didn’t have to wait long though as following a trip to London, she started experiencing the same symptoms in her left side and her diagnosis was confirmed.
Zoe, a midwife who works in the outpatient unit at Thomas Linacre, said: “Fatigue is what I struggle with most. It comes and goes so each day is different. Some days I can’t get out of bed and others I will be fine.
“The drugs usually prescribed don’t work for me, some have even made my symptoms worse so I don’t take any of them anymore.
“I control the MS with a strict diet and I have to make sure I don’t do too much. I used to be really sporting and used to love running and swimming but now I can get worn out just playing with my kids.
“I don’t notice how tired I am getting but if I overdo it, it can affect me for months.”
Zoe’s diagnosis was the second blow to the family coming just a few years after her husband Paul was diagnosed with cancer.
But it is thanks to Paul’s support and held from her two sons Haydon, 14, and four-year-old Freddie.
“Paul has been amazing. I am so lucky. We have been together for 16 years and we have been through alot together,” she said.
“I feel like for the first in four years there is a light at the end of the tunnel. I have spoken to people who have had HSCT and their symptoms have completely disappeared which is just amazing.
“We have a few events planned, such as a walk up Snowden, which I probably won’t be able to do, so I will get the train up and meet everyone at the top.”
Zoe is already on the year-long waiting list for HSCT and is hoping to raise enough money in time or she will have to delay treatment for longer.
To donate, visit crowdfunding.justgiving.com/zoe-derrick.