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The term blind-sided became personal for Anna when she became legally blind during her junior year of high school at the age of 16. While her friends were learning to drive, giggling about boys, and shopping for homecoming dresses, Anna was struggling to learn Braille and coming to grips with the idea that she was being propelled in a trajectory that would change her life forever. And so began her wrestling match with an unrelenting partner, relapsing and remitting MS.

Anna’s blindness lasted 10 months but her disease continued to weaken her body. By the end of her freshman year of college, another relapse left her dependent on a cane for mobility. It was at this point that Anna was introduced to a nurse specializing in Lifestyle Medicine Integration. Together they researched and applied both nutrition and functional exercise principles to improve her quality of life. Within 6 weeks, Anna was feeling better and was able to run a full 6 miles!

Updates (10)

June 12, 2016

First week in Russia complete! It's surreal!

For more detailed updates follow my HSCT journey at


April 14, 2016


Time seems to be not be moving quickly enough but yet like it's flying at the same time. June will be here before we know it. With that said, I was inspired by another soon to be HSCT patient to better explain my situation.

From the beginning, Russia was my number one choice of facility. They have been doing this procedure for international patients for a long time and I liked the idea of a smaller clinic (16 patients at a time, I believe. 8 of which are international) with close monitoring and care.

Russia's patient waiting list is out almost 3 years, so we originally did not think that Russia would be an option as we don't have that kind of time to wait. But I applied anyways last November. We were ecstatic to receive a transplant date with a wait of under a year!!! But this news is also a bit disconcerting.

Russia prioritizes patients based on disease aggression, lesion load, and lesion placement. Although I am still fairly functional, the behind the scenes damage paints a whole different picture and explains the reason I was able to get a transplant date more quickly. My lesion burden on both my brain and c-spine (neck) is not something to underestimate and the placement of several lesions could wreak havoc or cause extreme disability with any enlargement or new exacerbations or flare-ups.

I am currently washing off a very strong drug, Tysabri. This is a cause of concern as coming off of the drug itself has been known to cause a rebound effect that initiates a bad relapse causing more damage. Also as my disease is very aggressive, without being on any medication the chance of gaining new damage is high.

So my prayer is that during this washout period, I do not accumulate more damage or go through another terrible relapse prior to my Russia trip. To help increase those chances, my neurologist has ordered routine IV steroids. I hate them, but they are necessary. 1,000mg every 14 days. Please pray that these steroids are successful in warding off any additional damage or disease progression.

Today was steroid IV #1. 1 down, 3 more to go.

Also please don't be surprised if I eventually turn into the hulk… (See pictures for the new steroid induced self-portrait ;) )

Photo Galleries (3)

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September 11, 2016

Hang in there Ahna!
The Bobber

Bob Richenburg

April 25, 2016

I love you Ahna! Stay positive. You amaze me!

Jeanie Zecckine

February 29, 2016

Anna - I heard of your story through your Aunt Vicki and I want you to know I am praying for you. I've never met you but was brought to tears and am truly inspired by your incredible strength and positive attitude. I wish you only the best and again, prayers to you during this next incredible journey.