News Local

Search for cure on hold, for now

Heather Pickett

Globe Staff

LACOMBE- For a woman who describes herself as someone who doesn't like to wait, the news Noreen Leasak received last week could be considered a heartbreaking setback that only leaves her waiting.

Following a second trip to the False Creek Medical Centre in Vancouver, Leasak was hoping doctors would be able to locate a stenosis ­-a narrowing or abnormal twisting of the veins - that could potentially be linked to her multiple sclerosis (MS).

"I was hopeful False Creek would be able to find the stenosis, so we can get it fixed, which is a little weird wanting a medical test to show something when most of us don't want a test to show a problem," she told family, friends and supporters in an email only days after learning the news that doctors still could not locate a blocked or twisted vein.

Had a blockage or twist been located, Leasak had planned on receiving a revolutionary treatment in the coming weeks.

First seen by Leasak and thousands of others with MS on a W5 program, the liberation treatment was brought to light, capturing the attention of MS patients across the country and elsewhere.

The brainchild of vascular surgeon and professor at the University of Ferrara in Northern Italy, Dr. Zamboni, the liberation treatment opens blockages in veins to restore normal blood flow by either angioplasty or the placement of a stent in the affected vein. Dr. Zamboni's research showed in a majority of the patients he examined that there was a narrowing, twisting or outright blockage of the veins that are supposed to flush blood from the brain, a condition being called chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency (CCSVI).

And according to some medical reports, the majority of MS patients tested so far has it.

At False Creek, Leasak was hoping doctors would be able to locate a blocked or twisted vein after she returned for a second visit and a second MRV.

However, the second trip revealed results much like the first.

"They couldn't find anything," she said. "But this is still really new and the lack of finding anything could be due to the interpretation of the images.

"Plan B is to have the experts look it over. It will go to two doctors in India, Dr. Supka, Dr. Haake and Dr. Zamboni. If the experts don't see anything then I give up my seat on the flight to India to someone else."

While nothing definitive was revealed in Leasak's second MRV, there are some areas that could be of potential significance, including a potential metal deposition or calcification in certain regions of her brain and a slight flattening of her right internal carotid, which could reduce blood flow.

Currently, there isn't a place in Canada offering the treatment and had a blockage been found, Leasak had a seat booked to Chennai, India where she planned to undergo the treatment in the hopes of finding her "miracle cure."

According to an email sent to Leasak from Surgical Tourism Canada Inc., the organization Leasak was planning to travel with, there are six patients slated to take part in the first trip the third week of March, with three to be treated in Chennai and the others in Bangalore.

If the experts can't find a blockage, Leasak's trip will be on hold, but not her hope of finding a cure.

"Here's hoping they find it," she said. "I have given my spot to a lady who is ready to go with positive results on her test and I will go when they find it."

Leasak recently been taking a new perscription called LDN (low dose naltrexone) which made a difference for her in as little as three days.

"Even though I won't be going, if I was able to be of any help to others I'm glad," she said. "I will continue to be hopeful that the cure for MS isn't far off. I want to see doctors trained in this research, in this treatment, so we can get it going.

"It doesn't make sense to make a person with MS wait, while each day they loose some part of their time, of their body. There is no reason to wait.

"This treatment needs to be looked at so let's get at it."

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