When Gra Doherty's hair started falling out by the handful, she didn't want to leave her house.
It started after she began chemotherapy for her multiple sclerosis.
“I felt very uncomfortable just because I didn’t feel like myself. I’m a hair twirler. I’m a hair flipper. I’ve had long hair my whole life,” said Doherty, a nurse at Wolfson Children’s Hospital.
So, her co-workers came up with a surprise.
Fellow Wolfson nurse Alison Pike cut off 10 inches of her own hair; then, she and a group of other nurses collected $400 to have it made into a custom wig for Doherty.
“The way her demeanor changed from before to after, I mean, I want to grow my hair out eight more times,” Pike said.
Next week, Doherty’s co-workers won’t see her in the operating room at Wolfson.
She's traveling to Northwestern in Chicago for a new experimental treatment that could save her life.
It's called hematopoietic stem cell transplantation, or HSCT.
“A lot of people don’t know about it,” Doherty said.
Doherty was referred to the clinical trial in Chicago by Dr. Thomas Snyder of Baptist Neurology.
A trial published in January showed improvements for relapse-remitting multiple sclerosis patients.
The trial showed those patients saw greater improvements with HSCT than patients who took traditional drug regimens.
HSCT temporarily shuts down patients’ self-destructive immune systems and then reboots them using stem cells.
Doherty said her insurance covers the treatment, but that’s the not case for everybody.
“I hope to raise money for people (whose) ... insurance does not cover the $125,000 fee for the HSCT, I hope to take some of that burden off of them. I want people to have the chance that I’ve been given,” Doherty said.
Doherty said she’s still on the hook for her multiple trips to Chicago for the treatment.
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