A Miracle for Martha
A woman’s journey of deliverance from pain
By Deanna Kirk Daily Sun Nov 26, 2017 (Link to original story)
The last 12 months have been a giant series of ups and downs, an extreme roller coaster for Martha Phillips.
Last December, her father-in-law battled brain cancer, which affected the lives of all of her close family; and her only brother died very suddenly from a pulmonary embolism. They were buried a week apart.
The battle with Multiple Sclerosis
Martha had been fighting her own battle against Multiple Sclerosis since a diagnosis in 2010. This disease causes the body’s immune system to attack its own tissues, and the malfunction destroys myelin, the fatty substance that coats and protects nerve fibers in the brain and spinal cord, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Phillips’ had seen her own ups and downs in that battle as well, with medications that caused huge weight gain, severe intolerance to heat, and intense bouts with pain. She tried many different protocols and medications, but what seemed to make the most difference was an extreme dietary change, which led to a loss of 72 pounds, acupuncture, adjustments, and regular massage therapy. Under the care of Dr. William “Doc” Davis in Ennis, she went from 10 prescriptions down to two, and did quite well for nearly six years.
But after the bout with all the stress during December 2016, Phillips discovered her body just could not cope with all the continuous stress demands placed upon it, and she suffered a pretty severe setback. She was forced to go on disability from her job.
“The Tysybri I was having infused regularly has a black box warning,” Phillips said. “I had to sign paperwork when I started taking it, that I knew it could kill me.”
The neurologist offered several other choices of medications, but all were either equally as risky with not as many good results, or more risky with even worse results.
“To me, it felt like my only choice was going backwards, and to me that was unacceptable,” she said.
Phillips learned about a somewhat-new innovative treatment for people with Multiple Sclerosis, and it was not being done in the United States yet, but for $25,000 one could fly to Panama City, Panama and have the complete treatment done and stay right in the same hotel where the treatments are done.
The blessings of how all her funding came together to have the treatment were chronicled in a story that ran in the July 8, 2017 edition of the Daily Sun.
But this story is about the trip itself, the treatment, and how her life has been since the trip to Panama.
Life since Panama, and new stem cells
It’s been roughly three months since Phillips returned from Panama. She took her little sister Robine Reeves with her, and the things she noticed right off were 1) the Atlanta airport is awful, and 2) Panama is a lot like Texas with regard to the weather.
“It’s very Americanized — they take American dollars, Spanish is their primary language but it’s OK if you don’t speak it,” Phillips said. “The people in Panama are so super friendly, even the kids. A group of junior high kids got on the bus with us and many of them spoke to us. That was the day Vice President Pence was there, and we, stupid Americans, didn’t know he was there, but his motorcade was very impressive.”
Phillips notice that the Panamanian president’s motorcade also came through that morning, and they watched it all from the rooftop of their hotel where the pool was. And some guy from London had to tell them their own Vice President was there.
“The clinic has a very impressive concierge,” she said. “Someone was there holding a sign with my name on it at the airport. She took us to the VIP lounge and whisked us through customs and the fingerprint deal very quickly and painlessly, and called our driver who works for the clinic. He took us to the hotel, and showed us shopping and restaurants along the way.
“They don’t have really good restaurants, they just look for consistency,” she said.
“The next day, I had a medical checkup and blood work. The second day, they gave me stem cells through an IV. I also had two subcutaneous injections in the groin/lymph region, which were more painful than the IV.”
Phillips also had physical therapy that day which consisted of evaluation, stretching exercises, balance and strength.
“The stems cells they use are umbilical cord stem cells, which women donate when they give birth,” she said. “Since they are brand new, they double every 24 hours. They’re a perfect source because they multiply so fast. I got 1.33 million stem cells.”
The way the stem cells work for MS and some other autoimmune diseases they’re using them for is that they reset the immune system, she said. They do not go in and repair the damage the MS has already done to her brain, but there is scientific evidence that shows if MS stops attacking the body, the body can heal the brain and spinal lesions.
“They believe that because there’s another virus that does the same kind of damage to your brain, but because it does not continue to attack the brain, people recover from it,” Phillips said.
There was another day of treatment just like the previous day, then the following day the sisters flew home. On the day of the blood work and checkup, the doctor discussed diet and supplements with Martha.
“He started describing a high fat, low carb diet, and I said, ‘Do you mean a keto diet?’ and he said ‘Yes,’” she said. “He said I would be throwing my $25,000 down the drain if I did NOT follow this diet and take supplements.”
Phillips had already followed this diet in the past, but wasn’t following it very strictly at the time.
“When I went to Panama, I was taking 10 prescriptions,” she said. “I am taking one now, 90 days later.
“That all actually happened within the first two weeks.
“I feel amazing. I feel like I can conquer the world. I’ve had more energy than I’ve had the entire time I’ve had MS.”
Philips said when she made her trip to Panama, her thought was if she could get rid of enough of the pain and fatigue in order to return to work, she would be happy.
“But I got SO much more — I actually have no symptoms right now.”
She’s also no longer a slave to heat intolerance. Before, when she went to CrossFit, she had to wear a cooling vest full of ice packs and stand in front of a giant fan or A/C unit in order to work out. The least little bit of heat would cause her to become very, very sick.
“The first time I worked out after my transplant, Nick (Biles) came over to check on me, and I cried and said ‘I can’t remember the last time I worked out without heat intolerance,’” she said.
The heat intolerance makes the MS Symptoms you have temporarily worse until your body cools down. That can happen with one degree of change in body temperature, she said.
“It’s really weird to me now, to learn how to live without thinking about all those things,” Phillips said. “For so long, I’ve had to consider all sorts of eventualities in every scenario I find myself in.”