An Inverness mum-of-two has been given a chance at better life after travelling 4,500 miles for multiple sclerosis (MS) treatment in Mexico.
Jade Taylor spent months fundraising for the opportunity to travel to Mexico for treatment not yet available on the NHS in Scotland.
This included shaving her hair for charity, with some money donated to the Little Princess charity.
Her goal was to raise £56,000, and she was determined to live a happier, healthier life with her two kids, Kaiden, 11, and Giah, eight.
Her journey started more than a decade ago when she lost nine stone and adopted a healthier lifestyle.
However, after experiencing worrying symptoms such as a dropped foot, she consulted a doctor, which eventually led to an MS diagnosis in February 2021.
For the last few years, Ms Taylor has suffered from mobility issues, which has diminished her quality of life.
Therefore, she decided to start fundraising after learning of a new MS treatment available in Mexico which stops the disease’s progression.
In September 2023, Ms Taylor flew to the clinic for treatment, which coincided with her 39th birthday.
Ms Taylor admitted she was “very scared and nervous” when she first arrived even though she knew others who had undergone the same procedure.
Ms Taylor has seen improvements in her MS symptoms
However, she knew she had “to put her trust in them” and so the team spent the first few days of the trip testing her suitability for treatment.
This included two rounds of intensive chemotherapy before she was given shots morning and night to help mobilise the affected stem cells out of the bone marrow.
During this, she said her bones became extremely painful after which fluid containing the stem cells was taken via a line inserted into her chest.
It took five hours to remove the stem cells and afterwards, she endured more rounds of chemotherapy to kill any inflammation.
She said: “The week when I had no stem cells was extremely hard. I ended up becoming very anaemic, I kept losing my balance a lot and I passed out a few times. I just had no energy, it was really scary for a time.”
While she had no energy, she said during that time, she was able to walk better with little to no spasming in her legs, which she said felt “incredible”.
Ms Taylor then had her stem cells transferred back into her body at which point she said “she hit the floor” from exhaustion.
For a week, she was bed-bound, and she said it was touch and go whether she would need a blood transfusion if the readings were not as they should be.
The team had to make sure she was well enough to receive the final infusion so she could travel home, as she had been away for four weeks at this point.
‘It was really scary’
On October 21, she flew back to Inverness as she was “desperate” to see her kids and just “wanted to be home”.
In the weeks following the procedure, Ms Taylor has been isolating due to her weakened condition.
She said: “I’ve taken quite a slump, but they say it’s like a rollercoaster for the year after your treatment.
“When I first came back I was very tired, I would fall asleep constantly, and I still had issues with my bladder. They say it gets worse before it gets better.
“Before the treatment, I had issues with my hand, where I had two fingers on my left hand which would curl in from the spasticity, and I notice that they don’t do that anymore.
“I also used to have bad brain fog, so in conversations I would forget what I was saying but I seemed to have woken up one day and I am a lot sharper and I am remembering things more clearly.”
Now after having the treatment, Ms Taylor is hopeful for the future and that she will never have to take drugs to help her MS, which she says was doing more harm than good.
She added: “I am hopeful that with time, physiotherapy and determination, I will be able to start walking again, even with a crutch, I just want to have a life with my kids where I can walk down the beach with them, and not have to worry about my feet catching or tripping.”
While Ms Taylor knows the road to recovery will be difficult following the treatment, it has given her a better future for a better life with her kids.