Saturday, October 25, 2003 9:15 AM CDT
The Brenham Banner Press
Michelle Martinez Metzger, Miss Texas 1996 and top 10 finalist for Miss America, was recently diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.
Metzger is the wife of Kurt Metzger of Brenham, the son of Tamy and Roger Metzger.
Mrs. Metzger has begun treatment, and she and her husband, have formed a foundation in her honor called the Michelle Martinez Foundation.
The foundation Sunday was making a donation in Mrs. Metzger's honor to the Multiple Sclerosis Society before the Miss Dallas Pageant.
"Of course, my initial reaction was one of shock and fear," said Mrs. Metzger. "All I knew about the disease was that there is no known cause or cure."
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a disease of the central nervous system that includes the brain, spinal cord and the optic nerves. In MS, the protective tissue surrounding the nerve fibers, myelin, is lost in multiple areas, leaving scar tissue called sclerosis.
When myelin or the nerve fiber are destroyed or damaged, the ability of the nerves to conduct electrical impulses to and from the brain is disrupted, and this produces the various symptoms of MS. Almost 400,000 people in the United States have the disease.
At almost $1,200 per month without insurance, most people who have MS cannot afford the treatment.
Mrs. Metzger, an accomplished pianist, noticed a tingling sensation in her right hand one day while playing.
"The first symptoms seemed so mild, they were very easy to ignore," she said. "That is the reason we are coming out publicly with my diagnosis.
"If left untreated, the damage done to the nerves cannot be repaired. We wanted to make people aware of the symptoms, so they can be diagnosed and treated right away.
The Michelle Martinez Foundation will raise funds to support research
to find a cure for MS and treatment for those who cannot afford it.
Copyright © 2003, The Brenham Banner Press