Wednesday, January 4, 2012

A Devastating Diagnosis Builds Strength

Nowhere is this familiar refrain truer than in the grueling arena of competitive bodybuilding - a highly specialized form of training in which muscles and physical stamina are regularly pushed to the extreme. So it didn't seem unusual when Brent Felstead, a competitive bodybuilder, began experiencing numbness and weakness following his training sessions.
In 1997, Brent was a 31-year-old husband and father of one son. The busy electronics engineering technologist and amateur bodybuilder from Kanata, Ontario never thought he might have a disabling disease of the central nervous system. After all, he was accustomed to dealing with training injuries, aches and pains.
It wasn't until two years later, when his symptoms became too distinct to ignore, that he went to a doctor. In a matter of weeks, he had gone from a mild limp, to losing all mobility in his right leg and numbness spreading to most of the right side of his body. In October 1999, following an MRI scan, Brent Felstead was diagnosed with MS.
"I live with multiple sclerosis every day, and my goal is for the disease to affect my life as little as possible," said Brent Felstead.
Because Brent was determined to carry on with his family, work and bodybuilding, he selected a treatment that was both effective and that would ensure his quality-of-life. Brent chose Avonex® (interferon beta -1a), which is only taken once-a-week, where other treatments require injections daily or every other day. In addition to the once-a-week convenience, a recent Environics study showed MS patients taking Avonex® had much fewer injection site reactions or initial flu-like symptoms.
"Because Avonex® is injected into the muscle, I don't get unsightly reactions, which is important for my appearance in competitions," said Brent. "And with a once-a-week treatment, I never forget to take it and I only experience tiredness for about a day after the injection. That means I have the energy to keep up with my work, be an active dad and continue to train effectively."