Area man receives special MS treatment

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ASSUMPTION- Several years ago, Geoff Mathes was at work when he noticed something odd in his vision.

“I just thought there was a smudge on my glasses, or I had something in my eye,” Geoff said. “So I went to the bathroom, washed my glasses off, splashed water in my eyes. It didn’t help.”

Geoff visited doctors in Decatur and, after ongoing tests, he was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis.

“It’s kind of one of your worst nightmares,” said Geoff’s wife Tina Mathes. “You find out you have a disease that’s incurable.”

Geoff’s neurologist, Dr. Rana Mahmood, began a course of treatment.

“Since this is an autoimmune disease, you have to devise some medications that have an immunomodulatory effect,” Mahmood said. “Initially, you use ‘ABC’ drugs: Avonex, Betaseron, and Copaxone.”

But as Geoff’s medical team tried more drugs, they encountered more problems. Tina began researching MS treatments and attending conferences. In the process, she heard talk of a new drug being developed that could help her husband. Last fall, a nurse in Dr. Mahmood’s office named Lindsay Nein approached Tina and Geoff about a newly-available treatment.

“She told me ‘It’s called Lemtrada,’ and she told me what it was about, and I instantly stopped,” Tina said. “I got goosebumps all over, and I said ‘That’s the drug! That’s the drug!’”

Dr. Mahmood said the treatment is not available to all patients with MS, only those for whom other drugs have failed and who meet other criteria.  

After undergoing tests and struggling with his insurance company, Geoff traveled to Peoria last week for his first treatment: five long, consecutive days of receiving the treatment through an IV. His next treatment will come in one year and will take three days, doctors said.

Now back home, Geoff said he is hopeful for the future.

“The longest case without a relapse is nine years,” Geoff said, referring to information given him by a doctor. “That was kind of the selling point for me … nine more years of no more problems.”

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