Sunday, May 7, 2000
By Jerry Ernst
JOURNAL STAFF WRITER
DURAND - Donna S. Domby has taken her fight against multiple sclerosis to a new level with the creation of the MS Connection, a nonprofit foundation charged with informing people about alternative therapies for the debilitating disease. MS, which Domby said afflicts twice as many women as men and is typically diagnosed between ages 20 and 40, has stricken people as well known as talk show host Montel Williams and former singer-Mouseketeer Annette Funicello.
Domby, 45, was diagnosed as having the disease in 1977 when she went temporarily blind after the birth of her second child. She said she was expected to become bedridden within months, but she began practicing natural therapies to fend off the nerve deterioration that MS causes.
Despite some impairment of her vision, endurance and other physical symptoms, Domby has remained a dynamic player in her community, serving on the Durand City Council for about 12 years and being active in other civic activities.
She has formed two MS support groups, helped to organize an MS exercise group and led an organization that collected and distributed air conditioners, fans and medical equipment to people with MS, which is exacerbated by heat.
Now Domby, who tries to ward off progression of her disease with therapies as diverse as honeybee stings (apitherapy) and taking vitamins, leads a new foundation devoted to raising awareness of ways to resist MS other than the three medicines sanctioned by the federal government.
The MS Connection can be reached by phone at (517) 288-3219 and by e-mail
at MSconnInc@AOL.com. Its Web site is http://www.msconnect.org.
Q: Do you try to steer people toward particular treatments?
A: We're not out to promote just one type of thing for treating MS or alleviating symptoms of MS. We like to provide information about everything that's out there that people do, whether it's anecdotal or been researched or not. ... Chelation, vitamins and minerals, acupuncture, massage, exercise, hypnosis, bee venom, horseback riding, religion, faith in God, swimming ... and if anybody else has anything that helps them I'd like to hear about it.
Q: What do you provide that the three much older national organizations focused on multiple sclerosis don't already offer?
A: I was kicked out of one of the organizations a few years ago for promoting, they said, bee venom therapy. What I was doing was telling people what was making my life more comfortable. That's when I decided that we need to have something out there that is going to inform people of different ways that can help you cope in your life.
We want to provide information that maybe the other places won't provide.
Q: What has the MS Connection achieved to date?
A: We had one seminar last year, and we're planning another one for this year. ... I get phone calls all the time, and I answer e-mail all the time. And I answer letters from people asking for information. Jim (Meythaler), our treasurer, and Ann (Meythaler), the secretary, send out packets of information all the time too.
We've had (inquiries) from all over the United States, Canada, Kosovo.
Q: Besides more members and money, what other help or resources do you need?
A: We would like somebody to give us room ... where we can store more donated equipment. ... Right now we're short of storage space.
Q: Do you discourage people from contacting other MS organizations for information?
A: Don't ignore the MS Foundation, the MS Association of America and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. If you've got MS, you should be on every one of those mailing lists ... because you're the one that has the MS and you have to deal with it. You should (educate yourself).
Jerry Ernst covers Shiawassee County. He can be reached at (810) 766-6197
or (517) 725-3112.