Living With MS

Patients say multiple sclerosis doesn’t have to mean a life of pain and debilitation anymore. Meet a woman who is proof that new medications can help.

Five years ago, Julie and Max’ plans to have a child were set off in the distance. Julie was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.

Julie remembers, “It was very frustrating because I felt healthy, but my body wasn’t cooperating.”

Luckily for Julie, the first treatment for MS, called Betaseron, was just becoming available. Even luckier, her doctor was able to help her get it right away.

Dr. Johnson says, “It has a fundamental effect on the amount of damage which is occurring in the brain, and it’s safe enough so it can be used for long periods of time.”

For Julie, the drug meant re-gaining control. “It’s nice to not sit back and let this disease rule your life,” she says.

Nine months into treatment, Julie went into remission. Today, her life is changed in more ways than one. Two-and-a-half years ago, she and Max adopted daughter Sierra.

Julie explains, “We’re very happy with what was happening, and we didn’t want to delay having a family. So we decided to adopt.”

While on the drug, Julie couldn’t get pregnant. When an MRI showed no signs of MS, however, she took a break from the medication, and today Sierra has a new playmate named Sawyer. Julie is back on medication and expects to be able to indefinitely hold off MS. For now, she’s fine with that because of a family that keeps her smiling.

There are now two other FDA-approved drugs for the treatment of MS: Avonex and Copaxone. Both slow the progression of MS and reduce painful attacks, and they have fewer side effects than Betaseron. All three medications are administered by shot. Betaseron is given under the skin every other day, Copaxone is also given under the skin but on a daily basis, and Avonex is once a week into a muscle.