When 24-year-old Rahma Ehn was suddenly diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis earlier this year she felt defeated.
“You don’t expect to have these sorts of health concerns and worries until much later in life, so to hear you have a progressive and incurable disease at 24 is scary,” Ehn told Vancouver Is Awesome.
The young Surrey woman started developing symptoms of MS in January. The autoimmune disease of the central nervous system attacks myelin, the protective covering of the nerves, causing inflammation and damage, which leads to diminished function in the brain and spinal cord.
The disease affects everyone differently but symptoms can include vision problems, tingling and numbness, pains and spasms, weakness or fatigue, balance problems or dizziness and cognitive issues.
Ehn said she started experiencing what she initially thought was a fallen asleep leg, but as the days went by it not only wasn’t going away but it turned into numbness on the entire left side of her body and her face, and severe pain in her back and knee.
“I also experienced vision problems months prior for a brief amount of time and have been dealing with consistent brain fog and fatigue,” Ehn explained.
After two months of hospital visits involving a series of tests, eventually, an MRI showed lesions on her brain and led to her diagnosis.
“I was basically told it’s incurable and it will be a life long journey,” Ehn said.
“One of the most challenging parts of having MS is that it's a notoriously unpredictable illness.
“Being a normal and healthy 24-year-old with no prior health issues, this new anxiety of not knowing the future of my health, if I’ll be able to live my life normally, be able to walk unaided five to 10 years from now or even a year from now has taken a huge toll on me both emotionally and mentally.
“Not knowing where MS will take you is a scary thought.”
But instead of being scared, Ehn began to research.
“While there is no cure for MS, my biggest priority has been finding and doing whatever I can to halt this disease before it has a chance to progress and potentially become disabling,” she said.
She's now on a mission to do everything she can to stop the disease from taking over her life.
Ehn has decided to get a potentially life-altering treatment known as hematopoietic stem cell transplantation or HSCT.
The procedure isn’t available in Canada, but it is performed internationally in many countries, including Mexico, Russia, Singapore, India, and Germany. Ehn has been approved, and offered a date in August, for the procedure at a highly-regarded clinic in Puebla, Mexico called Clinica Ruiz. She said the treatment involved a stem cell transplant, chemotherapy, and a month-long stay in the clinic to reset and rebuild her immune system, preventing it from further damaging the brain and spinal cord.
It will also cost $54,500 USD (Around 75,000 CAD).
Ehn has set up a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for the procedure and is now calling on the public to give her a helping hand to reach her goal.
“This is really my only option if I want to stop MS from taking over my life,” she said.
“Learning about the HSCT treatment gave me a lot of hope and relief knowing I have an option aside from just allowing this to gradually worsen over time.
“I am hoping to get this procedure done as soon as possible so that I can live a fulfilled and healthy life without this horrible chronic illness.”
So far, $3728 has been raised toward her goal of $80,000.
Ehn said anything from donations to shares “means the absolute world.”
She said she planned on regularly updating her campaign page throughout the treatment to keep everyone in the loop.
To help Ehn’s cause go to ‘Treatment to stop MS.’