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Posted on Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 8 a.m.

Diagnosis inspires woman to be more active in multiple sclerosis community

By Guest Column

Just a few years ago I didn’t know much about multiple sclerosis, commonly called MS. I knew people with MS including classmates and several of my parents’ friends, but it wasn’t until my own diagnosis in June of 2011 that I really came to know what MS is and how many people it affects. March 11 to 17 is national Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Week and advocates all over the country are working to get the word out about this chronic disease.

Rebecca Meuninick.jpeg

Rebecca Meuninck

More than 18,000 people in Michigan have multiple sclerosis. MS is an autoimmune disease that attacks the central nervous system. I was an otherwise healthy 31-year-old when my immune system went haywire. My case is not uncommon because MS is a disease that is often diagnosed in people in their 20s and 30s, so its something that people like me will have to manage for most of their lives. For a disease that is so common in our state we simply don’t know enough about the causes of MS and how to stop its potentially debilitating effects.

Last week I joined the Michigan Chapter of the National MS Society to call on Congress to sustain funding for the National Institute of Health (NIH) and Congressional Directed Medical Research Program (CDMRP). These two bodies provide vital funding to stop diseases like MS in their tracks, renew lost functions, and end MS forever. Even if you don't know someone with MS, you probably do know someone who has benefitted from the health research these institutions support. NIH funds research on many different diseases such as cancer, Alzheimer's, and heart disease.

With the recent federal sequestration on everyone's mind in DC our visit to the capitol was well timed to remind lawmakers that funding for health related research has provided medical advances for many diseases. Nonprofit organizations like the National MS Society work with governmental bodies to strategically fund research and make sure that research efforts aren't duplicative. This is a good example of how the public and private sectors should be working together to solve tough problems.

Diseases like MS cost Americans billions of dollars a year. The average annual costs for someone with MS is $69,000 and with 400,000 people with MS in America we're talking about nearly $28 billion dollars each year. On the other hand, NIH funds many studies at institutions across Michigan, which bring in millions of research dollars each year. Funding research through NIH and CDMRP is an investment in our nation's health and prosperity.

Our US senators and representatives should sustain the funding for the NIH and CDMRP for the health and well-being of Michigan citizens with diseases like MS and for the ripple effects these research dollars have in our economy.

Rebecca Meuninck is an Ann Arbor resident and volunteer with the Michigan Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.



Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 6:36 p.m.

MS is a terrible disease, just yesterday, Clive Burr, former drummer of Iron Maiden succumbed to the disease at the young age of 56.

Cindy Heflin

Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 4:22 p.m.

G. Orwell: It would appear to be an overstatement to say there are cures for MS. This comes from the Mayo Clinic website: "Multiple sclerosis has no cure. However, treatments may help treat MS attacks, manage symptoms and reduce progress of the disease." It is true that Paolo Zamboni linked MS to neck vein abnormality and said he had success curing it with a surgical procedure, but other research has cast doubt on the theory's credibility:


Fri, Mar 29, 2013 : 10:03 p.m.

Dear Mr. Orwell, It might very well be that 'big pharma' and the medical establishment have interests in prolonging treatments over real cures, though that premise could be taken more seriously with better proof. Internet quacks take a back seat to no one in their promotion of worthless 'cures' and treatments, however......

G. Orwell

Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 5:09 p.m.

@Cindy Thank you for your reply. You may want to do more research rather than quoting an establishment hospital. Just look at the health of Americans. We are the fattest and sickest people among the developed nations. Our government (FDA and USDA) supports the use of growth hormones, anti-biotics, GMO (causes cancer and allergies), Aspertame (causes diabetes and weight gain), fluoride (industrial waste that damages teeth and bones, causes cancer, reduces IQ, etc.), MSG, BPA and many toxins in our foods. No wonder every form of disease and illness are on the rise in the US. The more sick the public is the more money the establishment medical system makes. Independent and alternative health sources are far better because they have not been corrupted. Please research more into cures for MS and you may change your position. There are cures for many other diseases that are being withheld from the public. You may want to watch a documentaries titled, "The FDA, Cult of Tyranny," and "Burzynski: Cancer is Serious Business." The public is being fooled.


Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 2:48 p.m.

Let me say I feel terrible for anyone afflicted with any life long disease. However for the past 10 yrs or so, every time I have an issue, its investigated for MS or Lupus or Lyme disease, etc. Most recently (last spring) they had me 75% diagnosed with MS, when I say 75% its because I would not accept that there were not other causes of my symptoms. Well as it turns out, I had/have a terrible vitamin deficiency that mimicks the symptoms of MS due to malabsorption issues. A long series of shots, I am 95% back to myself, after not even being able to drive myself because my legs were going numb (among other symptoms). I often wondered about people who truly have the disease and have to fight for a diagnosis, and those who do not have it and have to fight off being diagnosed as such. I can say the entire time the doctors where bulking my insurance company and my wallet, I kept asking about my vitamin levels only to be told they were not severe enough to be the cause. Turns out American Doctors don't look at that very closely as we have an abundance of food here in the U.S.A., they aren't used to seeing or treating the symptoms. I believe this happened to me because its much more pricier to treat MS, verses giving a series of vitamin shots.

Basic Bob

Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 2:28 p.m.

Perhaps all the hospitals, specialists, and pharmaceutical companies will be willing to donate some of their time and money to help these folks out. Anyone?

G. Orwell

Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 1:44 p.m.

I believe there are cures for MS. One is a simple surgical procedure. 73% success rate. Other, more simple treatments could be diet related. People with MS are not getting sufficient nutrients and minerals. It may be an inexpensive and simple cure. This is something the MS charities and Big Pharma do not want people to know. If a simple cure is known, charities would not exist (organization heads lose big salaries) and Big Pharma may lose billions. I believe Jerry Lewis was fired for recommending these cures. Also Google, "cures for MS" and you will get various cures. The key is to know which ones are lagitamate. There is disinformation people should be careful of.

Farmer Alex

Thu, Mar 14, 2013 : 1:12 p.m.

As someone diagnosed with MS I share author Mueninck's concerns. I question, however, her suggestions that cuts should not be made. If all special interest groups say the same thing we will never get out of this mess. We all need to understand the only way out is for us to stop spending more than we have.