In Sickness and In Health [Sponsored Post]

In Sickness and In Health [Sponsored Post]

Those of us who love and support a person living with multiple sclerosis (MS) very rarely describe ourselves as “care partners.” Many of us, first and foremost, are dear friends, cherished siblings, protective parents, or, in my case, a loving spouse.

Twenty-four years ago when we first got married, my incredible husband Donnie and I vowed to be there for each other in sickness and in health, and that is a promise I have strived to uphold for the past 17 years since his diagnosis of relapsing MS (RMS). We are so proud to say we have fought back against RMS as a team – a unified, determined, & butt-kicking one at that – for more than two decades.

Taking on RMS Together

I often say that while I don’t have RMS, I live with it every day. I certainly would never assume to truly understand the discomfort, fear or challenges that Donnie deals with directly due to his RMS. But I do know the feelings of helplessness that come from watching my husband struggle on the bad days as well as the joy that comes from seeing him feel in control and triumphant on the good days.

It may not be my doctor that we are talking to, but I feel almost as responsible for coming prepared to speak with Donnie’s neurologist, asking the right questions and listening closely to every last word she has to say. And though I luckily do not have to take a RMS treatment myself, I still spend a lot of time researching different therapies available and carefully considering the benefits and risks of each option.

RMS is a journey we are taking together, and neither one of us has a map! Being a care partner can translate into different things on different days, but what never waivers is the commitment to being a source of support and someone to share the weight of living with this disease.

LEMTRADA is a prescription medicine used to treat adults with relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis (MS). Because of its risks, LEMTRADA is generally used in people who have tried 2 or more MS medicines that have not worked well enough. It is not known if LEMTRADA is safe and effective for use in children under 17 years of age.

SELECTED IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION

LEMTRADA can cause serious side effects including autoimmune problems, infusion reactions, some kinds of cancers, thyroid problems, low blood counts (cytopenias), serious infections, inflammation of the gallbladder without gallstones (acalculous cholecystitis), and swelling of lung tissue (pneumonitis). Because of these risks, LEMTRADA is only available through a restricted program called the Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (REMS) Program.

Please see additional Important Safety Information below and full Prescribing Information/Medication Guide, including serious side effects.

When Donnie was ready for a change in treatment, he decided on an infusion therapy called LEMTRADA® (alemtuzumab) 12 mg IV. We wanted to make sure we were making a switch that was right for Donnie – after all, he had taken several different treatment options that did not previously work for him. But after several conversations with each other, our family and Donnie’s doctor about the potential benefits and risks of this treatment, Donnie was on his way to his first infusion. We made this decision together. As Donnie’s care partner it was important for me to feel knowledgeable and empowered to have his back throughout a new treatment journey!

The Power of Positivity

Donnie has a favorite quote that we reflect on often, and it certainly applies to how we both approach his journey with RMS, and the commitment we have made to each other: “Our lives are not determined by what happens to us, but how we react to what happens; not by what life brings to us, but the attitude that we bring to life.”

For us, there is real meaning in the power of positivity, and we remind ourselves of it daily, as a catalyst for strength. Staying positive does not mean ignoring the reality of RMS or glossing over the daily struggles that come from living with this disease. As a care partner team, what it means for us is approaching life’s challenges with hope, an enduring spirit and a resolve to keep pushing forward, remembering that any hurdle we face, we are not facing it alone.

If you want to hear from Donnie directly, visit his blog on the Lemtrada.com website for his perspective on living with relapsing MS.

 

INDICATION

LEMTRADA is a prescription medicine used to treat adults with relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis (MS). Because of its risks, LEMTRADA is generally used in people who have tried 2 or more MS medicines that have not worked well enough. It is not known if LEMTRADA is safe and effective for use in children under 17 years of age.

Do not receive LEMTRADA if you are infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION

LEMTRADA can cause serious side effects including:

Serious autoimmune problems: Some people receiving LEMTRADA develop a condition where the immune cells in your body attack other cells or organs in the body (autoimmunity), which can be serious and may cause death. Serious autoimmune problems may include:

  • Immune thrombocytopenia, which is when reduced platelet counts in your blood cause severe bleeding that, if not treated, may cause life-threatening problems. Call your healthcare provider right away if you have any of the following symptoms: easy bruising; bleeding from a cut that is hard to stop; heavier menstrual periods than normal; bleeding from your gums or nose that is new or takes longer than usual to stop; small, scattered spots on your skin that are red, pink, or purple
  • Kidney problems called anti-glomerular basement membrane disease, which can, if untreated, lead to severe kidney damage, kidney failure that needs dialysis, a kidney transplant, or death. Call your healthcare provider right away if you have any of the following symptoms: blood in the urine (red or tea-colored urine); swelling of legs or feet; coughing up blood

It is important for you to have blood and urine tests before you receive, while you are receiving and every month, for 4 years or longer, after you receive your last LEMTRADA infusion.

Serious infusion reactions: LEMTRADA can cause serious infusion reactions that may cause death. Serious infusion reactions may happen while you receive, or up to 24 hours or longer after you receive LEMTRADA.

  • You will receive your infusion at a healthcare facility with equipment and staff trained to manage infusion reactions, including serious allergic reactions, and urgent heart or breathing problems. You will be watched while you receive, and for 2 hours or longer after you receive, LEMTRADA. If a serious infusion reaction happens while you are receiving LEMTRADA, your infusion may be stopped.

Tell your healthcare provider right away if you have any of the following symptoms of a serious infusion reaction during the infusion, and after you have left the healthcare facility:

  • swelling in your mouth or throat
  • trouble breathing
  • weakness
  • fast, slow, or irregular heartbeat
  • chest pain
  • rash

To lower your chances of getting a serious infusion reaction, your healthcare provider will give you a medicine called corticosteroids before your first 3 infusions of a treatment course. You may also be given other medicines before or after the infusion to try to reduce your chances of having these reactions or to treat them after they happen.

Certain cancers: Receiving LEMTRADA may increase your chance of getting some kinds of cancers, including thyroid cancer, skin cancer (melanoma), and blood cancers called lymphoproliferative disorders and lymphoma. Call your healthcare provider if you have the following symptoms that may be a sign of thyroid cancer:

  • new lump
  • swelling in your neck
  • pain in front of neck
  • hoarseness or other voice changes that do not go away
  • trouble swallowing or breathing
  • cough that is not caused by a cold

Have your skin checked before you start receiving LEMTRADA and each year while you are receiving treatment to monitor for symptoms of skin cancer.

Because of risks of autoimmunity, infusion reactions, and some kinds of cancers, LEMTRADA is only available through a restricted program called the LEMTRADA Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (REMS) Program.

Thyroid problems: Some patients taking LEMTRADA may get an overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism) or an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism). Call your healthcare provider if you have any of these symptoms:

  • excessive sweating
  • unexplained weight loss
  • eye swelling
  • nervousness
  • fast heartbeat
  • unexplained weight gain
  • feeling cold
  • worsening tiredness
  • constipation

Low blood counts (cytopenias): LEMTRADA may cause a decrease in some types of blood cells. Some people with these low blood counts have increased infections. Call your doctor right away if you have symptoms of cytopenias such as:

  • weakness
  • chest pain
  • yellowing of the skin or whites of the eyes (jaundice)
  • dark urine
  • fast heartbeat

Serious infections: LEMTRADA may cause you to have a serious infection while you receive and after receiving a course of treatment. Serious infections may include:

  • Herpes viral infections. Some people taking LEMTRADA have an increased chance of getting herpes viral infections. Take any medicines as prescribed by your healthcare provider to reduce your chances of getting these infections.
  • Tuberculosis. Your healthcare provider should check you for tuberculosis before you receive LEMTRADA.
  • Hepatitis. People who are at high risk of, or are carriers of, hepatitis B (HBV) or hepatitis C (HCV) may be at risk of irreversible liver damage.
  • Listeria. People who receive LEMTRADA have an increased chance of getting a bacterial infection called listeria, which if not treated, can lead to death. Avoid foods that may be a source of listeria or make sure foods that may contain listeria are heated well.

These are not all the possible infections that could happen while on LEMTRADA. Call your healthcare provider right away if you have symptoms of a serious infection such as fever or swollen glands. Talk to your healthcare provider before you get vaccinations after receiving LEMTRADA. Certain vaccinations may increase your chances of getting infections.

Inflammation of the gallbladder without gallstones (acalculous cholecystitis): LEMTRADA may increase your chance of getting inflammation of the gallbladder without gallstones, a serious medical condition that can be life-threatening. Call your healthcare provider right away if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • stomach pain or discomfort
  • fever
  • nausea or vomiting

Swelling of lung tissue (pneumonitis): Some people have had swelling of the lung tissue while receiving LEMTRADA. Call your healthcare provider right away if you have the following symptoms:

  • shortness of breath
  • cough
  • wheezing
  • chest pain or tightness
  • coughing up blood

Before receiving LEMTRADA, tell your healthcare provider if you:

  • are taking a medicine called Campath® (alemtuzumab)
  • have bleeding, thyroid, or kidney problems
  • have HIV
  • have a recent history of infection
  • have received a live vaccine in the past 6 weeks before receiving LEMTRADA or plan to receive any live vaccines. Ask your healthcare provider if you are not sure if your vaccine is a live vaccine
  • are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. LEMTRADA may harm your unborn baby.  You should use birth control while receiving LEMTRADA and for 4 months after your course of treatment
  • are breastfeeding or plan to breastfeed. You and your healthcare provider should decide if you should receive LEMTRADA or breastfeed. You should not do both.

Tell your healthcare provider about all the medicines you take, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements. LEMTRADA and other medicines may affect each other, causing side effects. Especially tell your healthcare provider if you take medicines that increase your chance of getting infections, including medicines used to treat cancer or to control your immune system.

The most common side effects of LEMTRADA include: 

  • rash
  • headache
  • thyroid problems
  • fever
  • swelling of your nose and throat
  • nausea
  • urinary tract infection
  • feeling tired
  • trouble sleeping
  • upper respiratory infection
  • herpes viral infection
  • hives
  • itching
  • fungal infection
  • joint pain
  • pain in your arms or legs
  • back pain
  • diarrhea
  • sinus infection
  • mouth pain or sore throat
  • tingling sensation
  • dizziness
  • stomach pain
  • sudden redness in face, neck, or chest
  • vomiting

Tell your healthcare provider if you have any side effect that bothers you or that does not go away. These are not all the possible side effects of LEMTRADA.

You are encouraged to report side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit www.fda.gov/medwatch or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

Please see the full Prescribing Information, including serious side effects and Medication Guide, for additional Important Safety Information.

©2017 Genzyme Corporation. All rights reserved. LEMTRADA registered in U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. SAUS.LEMT.17.09.7471

 

The preceding article is content provided by our sponsor Sanofi Genzyme. The views and opinions expressed in the content above are not the views and opinions of Multiple Sclerosis News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, LLC.

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 other 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.