Thousands of bikers are riding in Bike MS this weekend. They're raising money to help scientist find new therapies, and maybe someday a cure, for the debilitating disease.
Some of the riders suffer from multiple sclerosis. Other's like Dr. Lily Jung Henson don't. She is the Medical Director for Eastside Neurology Services at the Swedish Medical Institute.
"Multiple sclerosis by definition means many scars within the central nervous system," said Jung Henson.
Antibodies in the blood attack the myelin, or protective coating, that surrounds the brain and spinal cord. The damage makes it difficult for messages from the brain to reach their intended target. It can cause numbness, body tingling, and weakness.
"Sometimes a young person might come in and you think they had a stroke because half their body isn't working," said Jun Henson.
Dr. Jung Henson said she dreaded telling patients they had MS when she was in training in the 1980's. There were no therapies or treatments back then.
"Now we have a pill on the market that's been there for a year. There's several more coming down the pipeline. Some are pills. Some are I.V. therapies. Our knowledge of MS is growing by leaps and bounds," said Jung Henson.
Thanks to advances in medicine and fundraisers like Bike MS, scientists are making strides against MS. Jung Henson will be joining her team, Smyelin Babes, for the ride this Saturday and Sunday. It starts at the Skagit County Fair Grounds in Mt. Vernon and loops through Whatcom and Island counties.
Money raised will also help the national and local chapters of the MS Society provide special services to patients.