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Firefighter With MS Has Been On Active Duty for 25 Years


Looking at Dan Pimenta, you wouldn’t think anything was wrong with him. But the truth is, the 53-year-old was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) at the age of 28 after experiencing numbness down one side of his head and body.

MORE: Three tips for newly diagnosed multiple sclerosis patients. 

According to a report from Pimenta thought his life was over. He thought MS meant that he would spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair and that he would have to give up his job as a firefighter.

Thankfully, things didn’t work out that way. His doctor put him on an innovative new drug called Betaseron. His fire chief was willing to give him a chance to continue on, a kindness that has been repaid with 25 years worth of service.

As well as taking Betaseron, Pimenta also changed his lifestyle. He started exercising regularly and eating well, and so far he hasn’t had any significant episodes and has been able to live life to the fullest as a husband, father, and firefighter.

Pimenta decided to keep his health condition to himself for a number of years until he eventually shared the diagnosis with friends and co-workers. He even waited until his children were old enough to understand before he told them about his MS.

He now takes the opportunity to spread awareness and fundraises regularly for multiple sclerosis organizations. He recently participated in Boston’s MS Climb to the Top, along with the rest of his firehouse.

MORE: Find out more about Betaseron as a treatment for multiple sclerosis. 

Multiple Sclerosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

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  1. XeniaE says:

    I’m very happy that he was able to keep working and stay active, but a lot of people see stories like this one, or maybe know someone with MS who is actively working and “seems fine”, and will therefore assume that everyone with MS should be able to do the same. This can cause a major struggle for those with MS who are applying for disability, when their caseworker happens to be one of those people who assumes we all can work, just because someone they know/read about with MS can.

    • Efraim Rivera says:

      Liz, I injected Avonex for 3 years and the flu symptoms after injecting were lousy, plus the efficacy of Avonex is low compared to other DMTs. Did Tecfidera for 3 years, 2 pills a day was much better than shots and efficacy was in the 80s vs 60 for avonex…

  2. Efraim Rivera says:

    Xenia your comment is very real, folks see the advertising and they assume that taking a pill or shot, makes everthing normal and it does not. Every MS patient is different and their symptoms vary from day to day. I was dx at age 61, in Apr 2011. I was a combat infantrymen in Vietnam and had major exposure to AGENT ORANGE (1968-1969) and I am registered in the VA “AGENT ORANGE REGISTRY” but since I was not DX within 7 years of exiting the service, I get no VA DISABILITY FOR MS even though it is on the agent orange “PRESUMPTIVE DISEASE LIST” . I did AVONEX for 3 years and just got off Tecfidera for 3 years because of low lymphocyte counts. Fear of PML. In the process to trying to get on Ocrelizamab…

  3. Karen says:

    I agree with Xenia. I believe it is rare to find someone with MS for 25 years able to climb let alone walk without aid.
    He is an exception. I have had MS for 25 years and walk with a walker. My neurologist said I’ve had now transitioned to SPMS. Stories like this give false hope as well as false information about MS.

    • Dianne says:

      I’m sorry to hear your MS progressed to SPMS but there are a lot of MSer’s that are still able to work (myself included) it is not false hope nor is it false information. Every person that is diagnosed is different as everyone’s body and brain are different. I have some physical issues but my main issues are with my cognitive functions. I struggle every day. So it’s not our fault that so many people are misinformed to where those of us that show no physical disability should not be able to share their story. I too am a volunteer firefighter but haven’t been on a fire ground in several years. Was just researching if there was any common ground with those whom have served in the fire service.

  4. Donna Mcfarland says:

    It is verrry frustrating to -many, to read stories such as this one. Though, without doubt, we’re thrilled for this patient’s success and ability to live as he has…it’s not at all-the norm! Each and every case is entirely unique, indeed. Personally, I was given a virtual death sentence when diagnosed in 1989.Thankfully, learning of professor of neurology Dr. Roy Swank and becoming his patient, saved my life! He told me “Donna, if you do as I say, you can lead a normal life”. Despite the “uncountable lesion load” and having had five significant exacerbation’s in six months. Through his program of diet, to address what he learned as the cause of the disease,rest and stress control, life has been good-all despite any drugs at all. We all find our own best methods, & I took the one who’d had an overwhelming, one of a kind 95% success rate of stopping the progress of the disease for well over 6 decades.

  5. K Lincoln says:

    Wow. I wish I could say the same. Diagnosed with MS in 2010, and after nearly 30 years as a FF/EMTP my world came to an end 3 years ago. It is a daily, no, hourly, struggle to look past all that MS has taken from me. What was once such a compelling calling in my life is now gone and nothing can fill that void. And believe me, I have tried. May you stay healthy and active for a long time to come.

    • Frank says:

      I too had to leave Emergency Services due to SPMS. And I agree with its daily decline of the body, but I have been doing research into dealing with MS in the Fire Service, and have come across information re: Firefighters and accomodating their MS. I was a Senior Officer (District Chief) and no longer doing front-line firefighting but there is a lot of different aspects of this career path. I am in the process of returning to my previous position accommodating the disability and still able to do my position professionally towards staff and the public.

  6. This gentelman it unique,as are many with ms live normal lives.But most don’t I had relapsing remiting ms for 12 years then went to secondary progressive ms.diagnosed in august of 1999. I have also tried the diet’s was on for one year with no impruvement. And also had stem cells which drained all of my savings.Done a number of the very expensive. Ms is a money making condition.I think that is why there is nothing for us in progressive ms. I get the ms navigator that has people that are
    supposed to have ms,climbing hills and riding bikes,and this gives me false hope
    for my future.

  7. K Yao says:

    I too have RRMS and have been diagnosed since 2005. I am a full time nurse and a volunteer fire fighter who goes into burning buildings and uses the Jaw of Life at car accidents. I have taken AVKNEX, Tecfidera, Gilenya and now I am waiting for my lymphocyte count to come up to start Cladrabine. My hat goes off to him for fighting the fight that so many of us fight. I can’t say that my diesease hasn’t been without its ups and downs and I am sorry that many are having problems with disability claims but I don’t think positive stories like this make decision boards swing one way or another. I think that is just the way it is for all chronic diseases. Good luck to everyone out there with this disease.

  8. Harry Bowlby says:

    February 1999 ms hit me at 30 years old . I was in law-eforcement for 8 years when it hit me started October 15 1990. I retired on August 1st 2017. Keep in mind I was an active powerlifter and started taken ldn in 2003. Just had my 3rd flare up this past February 2nd 2019 that kicked my butt. I had to leave my high school security job that I was working for 16 months. Went back on ldn and trying to change my diet and get back some strength. But the ms is hanging around.

  9. Frank Rooyakkers says:

    I am a retired District Fire Chief and am still very much wanting to be involved with the Fire Service. I retired because of MS in 2016. My Chief at the time is looking at retiring in he next 2 years. I am considering applying for his position when the opportunity arises. What is everyones thoughts on this?

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