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Hello. My name is Chloe. I am 29-years-old and I work in the Cardiac Cath Lab as a Radiologic Technologist. With this rewarding career I have had the opportunity to travel all around the United States, working at various hospitals including Duke University. I am currently living in Denver, Colorado with my boyfriend, Adam, and my 2 rescue dogs.

One Saturday in January, 2020, I was called into work at 3 AM to assist with a heart attack patient. When I arrived at work my right hand was numb and tingling. By the end of the emergency procedure my entire right side of my body had become numb with tingling. Returning to work on the following Monday, I realized that these odd symptoms are not going away on their own, especially after it took me 2 minutes to put a glove on. After much deliberation, I decided to go to the emergency department where they did an MRI. While I was waiting for the test results, I could never imagine how much my world was about to change.

When the physician walked in, and he no longer had the cheerful attitude when we first met, I knew something was wrong. And then he informed me that I had 6 lesions on my brain and 1 on my c spine. I was diagnosed with MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS! Hearing those words was devastating, I honestly could not believe that he had the correct patient. I burst into tears. I was shocked, and I had so many questions. Does MS run in my family? Who gets diagnosed so young? What is my future going to be like? Am I going to be able to do all the things on my bucket list? Besides being completely shocked, I now felt alone and scared.

Multiple sclerosis, (MS), is a potentially disabling disease of the brain and spinal cord. With MS the immune system attacks the protective sheath (myelin), that covers nerve fibers and causes communication problems between the brain and the rest of the body. If this disease progresses, I could become blind, lose my speech, and/or become wheelchair bound.

Since January I have been unable to work, I have spent countless hours researching treatment options while working through my depression and shock of having this debilitating disease.I have joined MS support groups that have benefited me greatly throughout this initial stage of my disease. People share a multitude of treatment options, from completely removing and rebuilding my immune system, to being on a plethora of pharmaceutical drugs for the rest of my life, and everything else in between.

My first choice after reading a number of success stories of MS patients going into remission, was to try the all natural route. A special, strict diet, exercise, yoga and meditation is the new lifestyle I have fully committed to. Unfortunately, after 6 months of being symptom free my symptoms came back with a vengeance. I have had numbness, tingling, balance issues, brain fog, eye weakness, fatigue and forgetfulness. One of the scariest aspects of this disease is that it is invisible, and I never know what new or worsening issue I am going to wake up with.

After accepting that I need to do something more than the natural route, I discovered a proven treatment to help stop the progression of MS, called HSCT (hematopoietic stem cell transplant). This is the most hopeful and promising treatment available, with thousands of successful cases which result in people living a nearly normal life. The possibility of putting this disease into remission makes me believe I can get my life back. Though this procedure is emotionally and physically draining, after the 28-day hospital stay and at least 6 months of recovery, not being fearful of how MS is going to affect my daily life is all I want. Even though I worked in the healthcare field and know what happens behind the scenes, I have never wanted a medical procedure done so badly in my life. It gives me the most hope that I will soon be able to do things that I once loved; such as hiking and backpacking, skiing, and rafting. HSCT has been around for decades, and has been helping people with MS live a fulfilling, normal life. Though it may not work for everyone, with the type of MS (RRMS) that I have, it has the highest likelihood of success at 85-90%.

Just a quick run-down of how HSCT is done, they start with harvesting stem cells from my bone marrow. This is followed by chemotherapy that will kill off my current immune system which is attacking my body and causing the symptoms of MS. During my 28 day stay, my retained stem cells are reintroduced into me to make a new immune system. The beginning stages of stem cell reintroduction gives me less immunity than a newborn.

 I turn 30 on November 9th and being able to get this potentially lifesaving treatment would be the most amazing birthday present. The grueling treatment and several months that follow is going to be hands down the most difficult journey I have ever faced. I believe it is the best option to give me a fighting chance to have a normal life. The cost of the treatment and incidentals is $70,000.00, and though I have insurance, it is not covered, which puts a huge financial burden on me because the procedure has to be paid in full up front. The longer I wait to get this done, as my symptoms progressively get more severe, it does not reverse damage already done, but prevents damage in the future.

Please consider helping me out and contribute to my fundraiser. Any amount will be greatly appreciated. Your donation may also be tax deductible.

Also, it would mean so much to me if you would share this with others who may want to help out.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Chloe Zallen

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