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Exploring, hoping for a cure to MS

LACOMBE- Lacombe's Noreen Leasak describes herself as a person who "doesn't like to take no for an answer," as well as someone who "doesn't wait well."

It's that type of determination that has led her to explore a new and revolutionary procedure in dealing with multiple sclerosis (MS) called the liberation treatment.

"I have to believe there is something out there that can help," said Leasak who was diagnosed with MS 13 years ago. "It's the same as anyone who has any kind of illness, there is always hope and I've always been optimistic."

Italian Paolo Zamboni, a retired vascular surgeon and professor at the University of Ferrara in Northern Italy, developed the liberation treatment. Inspired by his wife's battle with the condition, Zamboni's research showed in almost 100% of the patients he examined there was a narrowing, twisting or outright blockage of the veins that are suppose to flush blood from the brain.

He then developed a treatment to open the blockages to restore normal blood flow.

Leasak saw a story about Dr. Zamboni and his work on the news magazine show W5 a couple of weeks ago and immediately began looking into having the procedure done.

She completed the first step last week by flying to Vancouver and having blood work, an ultrasound and an MRI done at the False Creek Medical Centre. The centre is home to a T3 MRI machine, the only one in clinical use in all of Canada.

Leasak is expecting to get the final results from all her tests this week and if it shows the narrowing, twisted or blockages Dr. Zamboni talked about, her next step would be to have the liberation treatment performed.

"I asked them, 'what happens if we find the areas that are narrowed or blocked and they're indeed what Dr. Zamboni is dealing with, what's the next step?'" said Leasak. "They said they're putting together a team of doctors who would be able to do the treatment but it's going to take a little bit of time. But, because I've already had the tests and everything, chances are I'll be up on that list (of patients desiring the treatment) and get in a little bit little quicker."

Demonstrating the vast amount of research she has already done on the treatment, Leasak talked about how long she thinks it will be before it's being offered in Canada.

"Because we're dealing with veins and there are a lot of vascular surgeons in this country, I'm thinking it shouldn't take a whole bunch of time, but it may depend on how quickly they move to get people trained to do it. It's not surgery, they go up through the vein and inflate (the area). Some doctors are using angioplasty and others are using the stent, it's a matter of preference."

So far, the procedure is only being done in three places around the world with Buffalo, NY being the closest. In her research, Leasak came across the name of a man from Buffalo who had it done and called him to see if he would be interested in sharing his experience.

"I just asked him how he was doing and he told me he had the procedure a year and a half ago and that, at the time, he had relapsing and remitting MS, the same as me. He had a numb arm and leg, same as me, and was dealing with extreme fatigue, same as me, and he said 30 minutes after the liberation treatment, he got a tingling sensation back in his fingertips which he hadn't experienced for a number of years. By the following morning he had feeling in both his arm and leg, they were no longer numb. And as far as his extreme fatigue, he said it gets better every day. He said right now 'I'm feeling 100% and it's like I'm 16 again' and has never had a MS attack since the procedure."

It was the type of testimonial she wanted to hear and one she hopes to be telling others one day. Right now she just wants them to know there is a possibility out there and they can at least get the work done in Vancouver to see if the liberation treatment is for them.

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