For Chrissy Brady, the first signal of illness came when her left leg went numb. A month-long migraine followed. When a subsequent MRI showed lesions scattered through her brain, it left no doubt that she was suffering from multiple sclerosis.
In MS, immune cells attack the protective covering of nerves in the brain, causing vision problems, tremors, paralysis, painful spasms, imbalance and cognitive changes. It’s difficult to diagnose and treat, and the cause is unknown.
Brady receives treatment for her disease at OMRF’s Multiple Sclerosis Center of Excellence, one of the preeminent centers for MS research and treatment in the world.
And Brady visits there every day, not because of her disease, but because she also works at OMRF.
In the foundation’s accounting department, Brady handles clinical billing, production reports and other clinic-related tasks. Working down the hall from where she receives treatment, she said, has an added bonus: empowerment.
“It’s not an accident that I ended up working here. It gives me a real sense of ownership over MS,” said Brady. “I think about the research at OMRF every day when I come to work. I’m working shoulder-to-shoulder with people making progress on the very disease I have.”
Brady made the decision to follow her doctor, Gabriel Pardo, M.D., to OMRF when he was hired to helm OMRF’s new MS Center in 2011.
“Dr. Pardo is like my guardian angel,” she said. “I trust him with my life.”
Brady is one of more than 3,000 patients seen by Pardo, the Center’s director, and his team.
In addition to patient care, the MS Center is devoted to the advancement of scientific knowledge through clinical and basic research to gain a deeper understanding of these conditions, which can improve clinical outcomes for MS patients worldwide.
Despite the unpredictable nature of the disease, Pardo was able to identify the right treatment strategy for Brady, including switching her medication to ocrelizumab a year ago. The drug, which went through clinical trials at OMRF, is the first treatment designed specifically for the type of MS Brady has.
“MS is such a complex disease, and each patient presents a unique challenge,” said Pardo. “So it’s quite rewarding to help someone unravel this puzzling disease like we have with Chrissy.”
Under Pardo’s care, Brady has not experienced a relapse in more than five years.
“My bosses knew that I had MS before hiring me,” she said. “For them, it was a gamble. But I’m forever grateful that they took a chance on me. That shows how special OMRF really is, and I never take it—or the care I get here—for granted.”
For more information about OMRF’s Multiple Sclerosis Center of Excellence, visit omrf.org/multiple-sclerosis or call 405-271-6242.