Originally from Auburn, Wash., Kerri Arceo moved to Guam where she met her husband, a native of the island territory. For years she enjoyed a fulfilling life teaching religion at the St. John’s Episcopal School. That all changed one morning in 1995 when Kerri awoke thinking she had suffered a stroke.
“I was numb down the left side of my body — through my arm and leg,” Kerri says. Concerned but undeterred, she went on to school. “At one point I was walking down the hallway when my left shoe fell off. I didn’t even notice until a young student yelled out to me.”
Kerri went to the emergency room at the local hospital. When the attending physician didn’t know what to do, he advised Kerri to go off-island for further testing. At Valley Medical Center, in Renton, Wash., Kerri underwent an MRI procedure that showed lesions on her brain and was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS).
Kerri soon found herself managing her new disease. This included countless hours of research, even bringing articles to discuss with her internal medicine doctor. “I actually contributed information to my doctor about Avonex,” Kerri remembers. “We got it shipped to Guam for me to try.”
Overpowered by worsening symptoms and the oppressive tropical heat, Kerri and her husband returned to Seattle. Here, the self-described “research junkie” became interested in clinical research, which ultimately led her to Benaroya Research Institute. For the past year, Kerri has been participating in a clinical study for fingolimod, the first oral immunotherapy treatment for MS. Today, Kerri is feeling her best in years. And she is grateful for the comprehensive care she receives as a participant in the study, led by Mariko Kita, MD, BRI Clinical Researcher and Director, Virginia Mason Multiple Sclerosis Center.
“I’d do anything to help,” she emphasizes. “But I don’t have money to donate to the cause, so I do research. I feel I’m helping so many people just by making myself available.”
To learn more about BRI's clinical research in multiple sclerosis.
Originally published in BRING IT ON Newsletter - Spring 2015
April 1, 2015
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