All About Multiple Sclerosis

More MS news articles for April 2004

Woman won't let disease slow her down

Wednesday, April 14, 2004
Scott Davis
The Saginaw News

When doctors diagnosed Christine K. Davis with multiple sclerosis, they said there was little they could do. They told her to prepare for an eventual life of pain and difficulty walking.

But the Kochville Township woman would not sit still. The 21-year-old resolved to stay one step ahead of the illness.

Davis, now 36, will prove the doctors wrong once again Saturday, May 1, when she puts on her tennis shoes and walks nine miles as part of the Frankenmuth MS Walk.

"I look back and see that when I was diagnosed, there was nothing to do but wait for a wheelchair," Davis said. "It's 14 years later, and I'm still active."

Davis represents the strides of many people with multiple sclerosis during the past decade. Relatively new drugs, including the Avonex that Davis takes, greatly reduce the effects of multiple sclerosis.

She said she's leading a normal life, working at her family's business, Champagne & Marx Excavating of Kochville Township, and raising her 5-year-old daughter, Kathryn, with her husband, Norman.

The affliction is a chronic, often disabling disease of the central nervous system. Symptoms range from numbness in the limbs to severe paralysis or loss of vision.

Most are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 40.

As a student at Saginaw Valley State University, Davis began experiencing severe dizziness, vomiting, difficulty walking and numbness on her left side.

Doctors diagnosed multiple sclerosis. It came as a severe blow because an uncle and her dad's cousin had the same affliction, which had decimated their lives.

Not only that, but she was engaged. She told her fiance, Norman, that she would understand if he ended their engagement because of the difficulties that lay ahead. He stuck by her side.

Doctors told her to go home, live her life and wait for the disease to take over.

"I decided I wasn't going to," Davis said. "I made up my mind. I was devastated, of course. My dad was devastated as well. He had watched his brother, what he went through."

She took what drugs were available to help with the dizziness, exercised when she could and continued working at her family's business after earning an associate's degree at SVSU.

Finally, in 1996, she began taking a new drug, Avonex, which is administered in weekly shots. Her symptoms diminished. She also receives steroids monthly to control vision problems caused by multiple sclerosis.

Now, she walks her treadmill for 15 minutes and lifts light weights for a half-hour daily.

The Frankenmuth walk is one of a series of fund-raisers statewide. About 94 cents of every dollar raised goes to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

Last year, 900 walkers participated in the Frankenmuth event.

Normally, she said, she can walk the entire distance. But she admitted that last year's event fatigued her, mostly because of activities the day before.

The event, which begins at 8 a.m. at List Elementary School, 805 E. Genesee, also will include three- and six-mile walks.

Copyright © 2004, The Saginaw News