Our own Jax (Jacquelyn Hammond) needs our community of friends and family to circle up the wagons and help her navigate this recent diagnosis! I asked Jax to give her story in her own words. All donations are tax deductible as this crowdfunding site is a registered 501c3 not a corporation!
Hello! My name is Jacquelyn Hammond (Jax 🙂 I have lived in Asheville for 16 years and worked as a Birth Doula, YMCA fitness instructor, child educator, business owner and bar manager! I went to East Stroudsburg University class of 1999 where I was a founder of Alpha Sigma Tau Sorority. I’m a mom of an amazing son, Elijah! I’ve recently been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis.
We believe it started about a few years ago when I was just so tired, dragging myself through the day. Then– I lost sensation in my hand. My leg started acting weird, dragging and heavy. I thought it was an old injury because who has time to be sick? I had been an avid backpacker, trail runner and I saw myself as invincible. I’d say to myself, “my right hand still works, I can still mix a mean cocktail! But I was having trouble walking at all, getting shocks down my spine and then a few months ago, at Ingles , I could hardly walk. That night my neighbor had to help me up my front porch steps. I was too weak even to stand.
MRIs came back that I have lesions in my spine, nerve damage. My lumbar puncture revealed oligoclonal bands in my cerebral spinal fluid and the doctors said, you have Multiple Sclerosis.
MS is a disease in which your own immune system attacks the central nervous system (of the brain and the spine) causing lesions, scars and damage to the nerves. My agility and mobility deteriorated almost immediately. The doctors said, we could try some of the immune suppressor drugs we have come out with over the past 15 years, but people have died only years after being diagnosed with MS, taking all those same drugs. The doctors said, these medications will slow, not halt the disease nor will it restore disability lost. And so I was having these terrible conversations with doctors, asking “How much time? How long? How long will I be able to walk, to work?” and thinking at night, who is going to take care of my son?
But I never take info lying down so I just started to doing research. As much as I could get my hands on. I was reading neurology journals, every study that was coming out on MS treatment, therapies, and very quickly I found out about HSCT, Hemoatopoetic Stem Cell Transplant for MS patients. Harvesting MY OWN stem cells
￼Stem Cell Transplants combined with Chemo have been a standard cancer treatment for decades, but only in the last ten, fifteen years have these stem cell transplants been applied to autoimmune diseases, like MS. In a nutshell, HSCT doctors harvest your clean, healthy bone marrow stem cells that do not contain the diseased cells attacking your nerves. They then administer chemo to wipe out the diseased immune cells. Last, they give the patient back their own clear, healthy stem cells. The procedure essentially shuts down the immune system and then turns it back on, with no memory of dysfunction. The results of this procedure are stunning –over 86% of patients find their MS is completely halted, they go into full remission, and are gaining back disabilities that they had lost as their nerves repair themselves and grow healthy. Patients are leaving their canes and wheelchairs in the hospital, walking out, with complete halt of the disease. What’s so great is that this is not an experimental procedure. Since 1967 HSCT has been done more than two million times around the world, and is to date the most effective treatment to durably halt underlying disease activity and progression of MS.
For the science-inclined, I’ve included links to the scientific journals highlighting the methods and success of this procedure:
I’ve reached out to doctors doing this treatment, both in America and abroad, and it turns out I’m an excellent candidate for HSCT. Being as young as I am and newly diagnosed, if I get this HSCT treatment I have over a 90% likelihood of going into full remission, including regaining impairments that I’ve lost. They are doing trials on this treatment in Chicago, but it is about ten years away from being offered to the average American and unfortunately I don’t have that time. In America disability index is categorized on a scale from 0 to 10, with ten being the highest. I’m currently at a 2.5 and MS progresses over time.
I have found a hospital with excellent safety profiles and over a decade of experience in providing just this treatment that is willing to do this amazing procedure on me. There is an urgency in the fact that the sooner I can get this treatment the better my odds are. The treatment to travel to the hospital and stay for 28 days where I will have my own stem cells taken out, receive chemotherapy, and then have my stem cells put back into me will cost $79,000. Despite the very large amount, which is so very intimidating to me as well, I want to say that no donation is too small, every little bit does help me closer.
If I am fortunate to raise more, I will use the funds to hire help to make sure my son is well cared for now, while my mobility is limited, and also when I am in the hospital getting this treatment, so Elijah’s needs are met until I can get better.
The daily mobility issues and unknown course of this disease is veryh but definitely the hardest part of this has been to see the burden of my MS disease fall on my family. My son puts on a brave face but I can tell he’s worried about me. I’ve recently had to give up my full-time job and work less demanding part-time gigs. If you can help us, we are truly grateful.
I want to add, that the people who know me know that I am a determined person and also a very hopeful person. I see a situation and I just see that there must be a way out. I don’t really accept that there isn’t a way out, and I do what it takes to find that way out and in my case, difficult as it is, there is a way out, this wonderful HSCT treatment for which I’m an excellent candidate and I just want to let you know that if you can help me get this treatment, I won’t let you down. I will be here living a joyful life in Asheville on the track and most importantly, taking care of my family that I’m so lucky to have.
Thank you so much for reading and donating, or even just sharing my link. If you can send it to groups in your community or post on facebook, that helps me so much. I am so grateful, and my family is so grateful.
Thank you so much, love you!!