Science Helps Woman Heal, Social Media Scripts Fightback

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a debilitating disease that has no known cause or cure. It can cause a range of debilities, from vision loss to slurring of speech and walking difficulty. But if you are Kanika Juneja, you can still fight the disease. This 24-yearold from Geeta Colony has started a Facebook group to create awareness about the disease. She’s the younger cousin of Anmol Juneja, the face of organ donation promotion in India. Anmol died in 2012 and his family donated all his organs to AIIMS. Kanika spoke to Durgesh Nandan Jha about her struggle with the disease and how she overcame it.

I was 21, fresh out of college, when doctors diagnosed me with MS in October 2014. At that time, it seemed to be the end of the world.

Initial symptoms were dizziness, numbness and loss of sensation on the right side of the body. But a patient suffering from MS can have partial or complete loss of vision in one eye or slurry speech, depending on which nerve is damaged.

I was lucky that MS was diagnosed within a week and a half from the time the symptoms first appeared. But most such patients get diagnosed late leading to severe symptoms and debility.

In my Facebook community, for example, there are nearly 600 MS patients from India and abroad. They say diagnosis took months. Some said they chose to go to an ophthalmologist when there was partial vision loss, overseeing the other symptoms that ran parallel due to lack of awareness about MS.

Treatment for MS is equally confusing. Steroid injections are usually given at regular intervals to check the disease’s progression. In worst cases, immune therapy is also advised but that is very costly. One injection costs anywhere between Rs 30,000 and Rs 60,000, and it has to be given every one or two weeks epending on the severity.

I recently underwent bone marrow transplant at Fortis hospital in Gurgaon under Dr Rahul Bhargava, which stops the disease. Research shows that it can also help restore some body functions lost due to the disease.