My Story: Andre Broadus

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What were the steps leading up to your diagnosis?

I was diagnosed with MS in 1994 after finishing college. It started with vision issues that eye specialists could not diagnose, and I ended up telling my doctor about my vision issues and that my mother had MS – which I thought to be the cause eyesight problems. After testing with a neurologist, it was determined that optic neuritis was the cause of my vision issues – so went my MS diagnosis, and thus began my journey.

I immediately began following an AVONEX injection therapy routine. Since there have really been no therapies for primary progressive MS exclusively, I continued AVONEX treatment over the next five years, until discontinuing for sight soreness and debilitating flu-like symptoms following injections.

Discouraged and not feeling any new symptoms, I stopped therapy. After a few years and the constant nudging from my mother, I sought a new neurologist and new treatment. This time it was REBIF. Three subcutaneous injections a week. After three years I once again became frustrated with sight soreness and discontinued therapy.

At this point, I stubbornly decided that my active lifestyle coupled with more exercise, better diet, and a job that kept me on my feet 8-10 hours a day (restaurant manager) would keep me mobile. This worked for several years, and then symptoms began to appear ever-so-slowly. At this point, a new neurologist put me on Baclofen to ease the spasticity in my stride and then suggested TYSABRI as a new therapy option. We disagreed as I was very reluctant to deal with more needles.

So the progression continued... Fatigue – everything began to take more time and effort. I struggled to complete a 10-12 hour shift and needed more sleep afterward. Balance – I began bumping into corners at work and around the house leading me to "hand walking," where I started finding convenient places to place my hands for stability to hide my shakiness. Weakness – Here began the foot drag and loss of grip strength on my right side. I was dropping dishes on the way to a table and almost falling into guests laps led me to the conclusion that I may have to stop working within a few years.

After a particularly stressful couple of weeks at work, I had another bout of optic neuritis. I visited an optic neurologist, who turned me on to the GILENYA therapy. I opted for disability in May 2012.

Now I am a 48 year old looking to embark on the next phase of my journey. It is no longer about me... Now I want to help and inspire as many people as I can!

What lifestyle changes have you needed to make?

I have cut out red meat, fried food and significantly reduced my alcohol consumption. I work out five times a week – including two personal Essentrics training sessions per week. I also see an occupational therapist twice yearly to assess my condition progression.

I have tried to remain active with outdoor activities, but now most require adaptive equipment and support persons.

Who has been there for you? How?

Everyone! And I mean that.

My family has always been there with love and support. My wife keeps me positive, challenged, and motivated.

I have friends who support me, but unfortunately, my condition has contributed to my introverted nature, and I have avoided social situations since I stopped working.

Now I am looking to embark on the next phase of my journey. It is no longer about me... Now I want to help and inspire as many people as I can!

What accomplishment are you proud of?

My two wonderful kids, if that can be called an accomplishment.

What accomplishment are you proud of?

My two wonderful kids, if that can be called an accomplishment.

Make the best of the journey! See the positive in all things.

Make the best of the journey! See the positive in all things.

What's your advice to someone else living with Multiple Sclerosis?

Make the best of the journey! See the positive in all things.

I had to stop working, but that has allowed me to see more of my kids' sporting events and now I have time to travel. Mobility challenges make the things you do more difficult but more rewarding. I do assisted skiing yearly, assisted scuba, hiking (wilderness on wheels... check it out!), and now I look forward to trying wheelchair sports.

Life is not over, and only a new chapter has begun!

Life is not over, and only a new chapter has begun!

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