When I was 18 years old, I moved out of my parents’ home to live with my non-English speaking uncle, who had recently been diagnosed with primary-progressive multiple sclerosis. Shortly after his diagnosis, my uncle lost his job, his wife divorced him, he could no longer walk without a walker, and he was left feeling weak and hopeless.

By being his primary translator at doctor visits, teaching him how to self-administer Copaxone injections, taking him to the ER after adverse reactions to treatment, explaining how one treatment compares to another, and emotionally supporting and encouraging him to never quit fighting, I witnessed firsthand what an individual with MS struggles with daily.

Fast forward to today, I am a fourth-year medical student at Pacific Northwest University pursuing a profession in neurology. Although we are now separated by a long distance, I continue to support my uncle, and I stay up to date on the latest MS research. Every so often, my uncle calls to tell me about the new medications he has tried, and he asks about the outlooks of the different clinical trials. I encourage him by saying that science is on the verge of finding a cure – that there is hope.

I got into medicine because I would like to be a part of that hope.

Having spent a month at Cleveland Clinic Mellen Center for Multiple Sclerosis Treatment and Research, I worked side by side with a well-respected group of physicians specialized in taking care of patients with MS. It allowed me to see the substantial progress that has been made in treatment and management of MS.

Twenty-five years ago when doctors and researchers were just learning about MS, limited therapies were available in slowing the disease from progressing. Today, there are a wide range of disease modifying therapies aimed at slowing progression, preventing number of new relapses, improved management of MS related symptoms, and physical therapy and rehabilitation programs specifically designed for MS patients. Research has allowed earlier diagnosis with opportunity to initiate early treatment to catch the disease in its most active stage and delay onset of marked disability.

Multiple sclerosis is very unpredictable and affects every individual differently. In observing a wide group of patients with MS, there was a large variation in response to therapy. A treatment that may have failed one patient is the driving hope of another patient in keeping them relapse free.

Physicians are working aggressively in finding the optimal treatment for their patients to prevent relapses. With the recent breakthrough treatment for the most severe form of MS, it further gives us reassurance and hope in future development and advancement in treatment and ultimate cure.

The dedication of scientists and physicians motivates me to pursue medicine in caring for patients with MS. I hope to one day be a part of the generation of physicians that can promise a patient with MS hope of reversing the disease.

There is no cure yet. There is no one, singular giant leap that has miraculously stopped relapses or reversed their damages. But each day that I work with patients, I can feel bigger and bigger breakthroughs around the corner. I’ve seen firsthand the progress we’ve made, and I am nowhere near giving up. I hope to one day see my uncle in the park, playing soccer with his son and strolling hand in hand with his new caring and loving wife. 
Tags Research, Treatment      3 Appreciate this

Lyudmila Rudneva

Lyudmila was born in Ukraine and raised in Spokane, WA. She graduated from Eastern Washington University in 2013 with BS in biology and a minor in chemistry. She later graduated from Heritage University in 2014, where she received MA in Medical Sciences. Lyudmila is currently a fourth year medical student at Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences pursuing the field of neurology with plans of specializing in multiple sclerosis-neuroimmunology.