AUSTIN (KXAN) — An Austin doctor is riding her bike on a 150-mile trek through Texas to raise awareness for multiple sclerosis, a disease that affects thousands of Texans, including the doctor herself.
Multiple sclerosis, a disease of the central nervous system, impacts nearly 30,000 people in the state and one million people nationwide, according to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.
A surprise diagnosis
Dr. Lisa Doggett lived a healthy lifestyle, provided patient care as a doctor, and was the mother of two young children when she was surprised by an MS diagnosis in 2009.
“I didn’t know if I’d be able to work, if I’d be able to raise my kids. If I’d be able to continue exercising. I’m a runner, a cyclist,” Dr. Doggett explained.
MS did not run in her family’s medical history. Dr. Doggett lives with a certain type of the disease known as relapsing-remitting MS. This form of the disease has periods in which it attacks the nervous system, but also periods where the person is in remission and they have no signs of the disease.
Dr. Doggett said she has relapsed three times since 2009 and has been through multiple medications to treat the disease. Right now, there is no cure for MS. Some of the symptoms a person experiences with the disease are visual changes, fatigue, and mobility issues, among others.
The diagnosis came as a shock for the entire Doggett family.
“It was hard to see how MS hit her and hit the whole family. We were all devastated,” Libby Doggett, Lisa’s mother, explained.
Dr. Doggett said the diagnosis changed her outlook on life.
“MS is an excuse for me to do more and do it now. Not wait,” Dr. Doggett said.
In the past decade, she has written a memoir, Up the Down Escalator: Medicine, Motherhood, and Multiple Sclerosis, and has become an advocate for those living with the disease.
A 150-mile bike ride
For the past 39 years, the National Multiple Sclerosis Society has held the MS 150, a 150-mile bike ride to raise money and awareness for the disease.
This year will be Dr. Doggett’s fourth MS 150. She and her mom will be riding for two days from Austin all the way to the finish line in College Station, TX. This will be the third time her mother joins her in the ride.
Dr. Doggett finished the first ride by herself, and her mom did not want that to happen again.
“The idea of Lisa biking out there without someone right by her side saddened me. So the minute I found out she was doing it again I started getting ready,” Libby said with a smile.
Dr. Doggett’s goal is to raise $10,000 for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and has created a page where people can donate straight to the cause.
Where does the money go?
The NMSS says it hopes to raise $10 million this year in fundraising. The money will be used to finding more treatments and a cure for the disease. The society also helps people with MS who are uninsured.
The organization has a group of trained professionals known as Navigators who help guide those with the disease.
“For uninsured patients, the MS Navigators can help them navigate the complicated health care system by helping them to find local neurologists or health systems that may offer lower costs or free services to uninsured individuals, supporting them with financial resources, and providing a list of resources that provide lower cost medication options,” a spokeswoman for NMSS said.
Dr. Doggett said she was very fortunate to have so many contacts in the medical profession and to have her own insurance to help her when she was first diagnosed. She used to provide patient care to people without insurance and she knows how hard it can be.
“Being uninsured just changes everything. Just makes it so much harder to get that care,” Dr. Doggett explained.