U.P. woman seeks breakthrough medical treatment to overcome M.S.

ISHPEMING — A local woman who has been battling Multiple Sclerosis for over a decade turned to a breakthrough medical treatment.

Multiple Sclerosis, an illness that effects more than two million people worldwide. The immune systems of patients with MS attack the myelin; this is the area surrounding nerve fibers in both the brain and spinal cord. The myelin then becomes damaged, causing various symptoms such as numbness in the limbs, inability to walk, loss of vision, and loss of coordination.

Although the illness can take away many things, it cannot take away someone’s spirit. An Ishpeming woman has faced these hardships with MS for the past 16 years, until last fall, when she decided that she’d had enough.

“I’ve been told throughout the whole process to ‘keep smiling, Linda. You’re an inspiration to me, you’re my hero,’ and I’m just doing what I do. I’m just taking one day at a time and that’s just me. I’m smiling, and you [have] got to keep living,” said M.S. patient, Linda Gransinger.

Linda was first diagnosed with optic neuritis back in 1999 at the age of 25. Optic Neuritis is often the first indication of MS with very similar symptoms. This illness caused Linda to lose vision in both eyes. While steroid medication eventually helped her recover her vision, an MRI showed that Linda had Multiple Sclerosis.

“I was scared, I was scared to death. I was like o’h my gosh, not me. Why me? Why anybody?,” Linda continued.

Since being diagnosed, the main symptoms Linda has faced have been numbness in her feet and legs with some immobility. Linda has used endless treatments and medications throughout the years, but none of them fully improved her symptoms.
Then, she heard about HSCT.

“HSCT is Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation and what they do it use my own stem cells, its many different auto immune diseases, it isn’t just for MS. Dr. Burke treats over 20 autoimmune diseases,” said Linda.

The treatment itself is a long process that includes chemo therapy, stimulating the growth of the stem cells, harvesting these stem cells and eventually putting them back into the body. All together, this treatment takes up to six weeks and costs around two hundred thousand dollars.

Linda sought this treatment from a doctor specializing in autoimmune diseases in Chicago. Once the treatment is completed, the MS will very likely be in remission for the rest of Linda’s life. While the results from the treatment can take up to two years to be seen, Linda has already noticed changes.

“I don’t have the dropped foot on my right dragging like I used to, literally learning how to walk all over again, learning how to bend that right knee and pick that foot up and it’s just the little things that you notice, like wow, I don’t do that,” Linda said.

Linda’s husband has also noticed changes not only physically, but also spiritually.

“She’s got more hope now, just knowing you don’t have the disease in you I think, going to bed at night thinking what’s it going to take from me tomorrow? Just knowing that you can do to sleep and think, I don’t have to worry about it,” said Linda’s husband, Dustin Gransinger.

Since the treatment, Linda is happy to have a second chance in life.

“Just knowing that the disease is in remission, that’s a win right there. I’m not saying I could run a 5k or anything but if I could get back to driving and I’m just going to enjoy life without having MS,” Linda said.

To anyone with an autoimmune disease debating getting the treatment, Linda has one thing to say.

“It’s a journey, it’s a roller coaster filled with ups and downs for sure but like I said, the only regret I have is not doing it sooner,” said Linda.

Linda is still in the recovery process, but she is enjoying life without Multiple Sclerosis through the help of her loving husband and 18-year old daughter.

ISHPEMING — For this week’s edition of #ABC10Feature, ABC 10’s Melanie Palmer introduces us to a woman who has been battling Multiple Sclerosis for the past 16 years. One day she decided she had enough and sought out special stem cell treatment therapy called Hematopoietic stem cell transplantation, or HSCT.

The treatment is improving her life and giving her hope. Linda Gransinger is learning to walk again. Meet her Thursday during our #ABC10Feature series at 5:30 p.m.

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