Multiple sclerosis patient Nick Perkins receives a stem cell transplant in Singapore in 2017. PHOTO/SUPPLIED
A multiple sclerosis [MS] awareness advocate has celebrated having no sign of disease activity in an MRI result five years after receiving stem cell treatment.
Carterton-based IT technician Nick Perkins was diagnosed in 2014 with the autoimmune disease MS, where the immune system attacks the nervous system.
The father of three had neurological symptoms, but it was the loss of sight in one eye that led to his diagnosis.
Perkins and his family fundraised to get a stem cell transplant done in Singapore, as it was not available in New Zealand for MS patients, only cancer patients.
“There is a lot of work being done to make it available in New Zealand for MS,” he said. “But for anything medical, it takes a long time.”
Perkins and his family fundraised $170,000 “in every way and any way” for the treatment, which he received in 2017.
The fundraising efforts in Wairarapa and Wellington included auction dinners, a mystery dinner, and a haircut evening.
“For everyone who helped us fundraise, it’s made such a difference to our lives,” Perkins said.
He documented his experience on the Facebook page, “Kicking MS in the Nick of time”. He announced the MRI result on social media.
“Today, coming up on my five-year anniversary, I saw the neurologist for my general check-up, post an MRI in December. The awesome news is that the MRI was completely unremarkable.
“It is completely stable on the MRI I had prior to the hematopoietic stem cell transplantation, which means no disease activity.”
Perkins said his biggest motivation to get treatment was his family.
“It’s always been about family for me; being able to run around with my kids.
“I don’t know if I would’ve gotten treatment if it wasn’t for them.”
He described MS as a silent disease.
“You’d be surprised at the number of people who have it, mostly because you can’t see it.
“It’s been a wake-up call, never to assume anything about anyone. You’d never know if that person was sick or was going through something.
“Once I was diagnosed, suddenly all these people told me about their uncle or brother who had MS.”
Perkins found a great release outside of work and fatherhood in going for a run and training for a half marathon.
“I run to make sure I still can and make the most of my ability.
“During the covid lockdown, it was nice to know my lungs still worked. Between IT and the kids, it’s nice to have an hour to myself where I don’t have to think.”