The Journey to Beating Serious Sickness

Richard M. Cohen

The Cohen Family

The Cohen Family

Richard M. Cohen, well-known journalist, author and blogger, is currently undergoing a stem cell treatment for multiple sclerosis. He shares some of his experience below.

Stem cell therapy no longer is the stuff of science fiction. We are not just discussing the future anymore. Reputable medical centers all over America are raising money and some beginning the long, expensive process of holding clinical trials. Such trials mark the beginning of the journey to beating serious sicknesses.

The drumbeat for access to stem cell therapy can be heard across the land. This is the new weapon that will slay the dragon: debilitating, chronic illnesses. My fight is with multiple sclerosis. I live with the remnants of two firefights with colon cancer. Pick a disease and get in line.

The day of the passive patient has to end. Let me share a secret. We have to get involved. We need to stay on
top of developments. We are our best advocates. We have to be prepared to lead the horse to water. Stem cell therapy is real and approaching fast. In fact, in some places, it is here.

My prediction for 2014 is that the large pharmaceuticals are going to invest heavily in cell therapy. That process
has begun. Eventually, they may control our health futures. Drug companies have the resources. Big pharma sees the
handwriting on the wall and actually can read it. Stay ahead of them. Pursue and learn about these alternative therapies. Invest in them. They may be your futures.

I am lucky enough to be included in an FDA approved trial of mesenchymal stem cells in treating MS. I am lucky, for I am a body in motion, even as others only sit in wheelchairs, impatiently waiting for their turn.

Results? I will believe anything when I see it. Yes, I am skeptical. How can I not be? But for the first time in four
decades, I know hope. It is new to me. I am reasonably hopeful but counting on nothing. I will be overjoyed if
the MS is halted in its tracks. I want to hear the sound of progressive deterioration grinding to a halt like the iron
wheels of a steam engine on steel tracks. We cannot assume anything, but we can hope.

All of us have to get real. Stem cell therapy is the grand medical experiment of our time. Medicine is changing. I do
believe cell therapy is the future. But finding the future is a long trek across uncertain terrain. Any patient with a serious problem must not just take a number and passively wait in line. Help raise funds for stem cell clinical trials. Push the medical establishment.

Doctors and patients are learning together as we go, and there is a large sky above us. All of us need to know more than we do now. The land is shifting under our feet, and we need to keep our balance. I, for one, am trying to get
smart. All of us are in this together. A stranger’s victory today can be ours tomorrow. We need to better know what our self-interest is. I believe cell therapy will push us across the finish line.

You can read more about Richard’s experiences on his Journey Man blog

About Richard

Richard M. Cohen, in his words, is a “journalist turned television producer turned patient advocate turned writer turned author turned blogger.” He was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1973 and has battled with the disease ever since. He is the author of Blindsided (2004), Strong at the Broken Places (2009), and I Want to Kill the Dog (2012).  Richard is married to journalist, Meredith Vieira, with whom he has three grown children.