BILLINGS- Research and medical advancements are making a major difference in fighting multiple sclerosis, and one Billings woman is proving it several steps at a time.
Echo Konecki was diagnosed with MS in 2006. Over time, she’s watched her body slow and her independence dwindle. Until last fall, when she started a new advanced MS treatment, reduced her stress by retiring from her full-time hospital job and took to the water.
“I started pool therapy at the end of January. I’m like, oh my gosh this is amazing. I could walk in the water,” said Konecki. “So you know, then I needed to do it on the land too because I just had to have that, too.”
So she did. And seven weeks ago, she walked into church.
Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease that strikes the central nervous system and affects nearly one million people nationwide.
“We don’t know exactly what drives it, whether it’s genetic underpinning or an environmental trigger that makes the immune system start to attack the spinal cord and the brain,” said Dr. Kris French, a neurologist at St. Vincent Healthcare
French says MS impacts every patient differently, but research and medications have come a long way to slow the disease, minimize brain injury and keep people walking longer.
“Twenty years ago, there were four medications available. Now there’s 19,” he said. “Almost every year in the last 10 years, a new medication has been approved.”
Konecki said she is not quite ready to take on the aisles of a big box store, but she’s thrilled to get back on her feet and grab back some of her independence. And the smile on her face, says it all
“If I want to just go some place small or go visit a friend, I can get in and out with my walker. So that’s pretty awesome.”
Here’s how you can help:
- What: Walk MS: Billings 2019
- When: Registration is 9-10 a.m. Saturday. Walk begins 10 a.m.
- Where: St. John’s Lutheran Home Pavilion, 3940 Rimrock Road. 1 or 3 mile routes available
You can also click here to learn more or donate to help fight MS.