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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Miller keeps fighting disease

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

While Traci Miller isn't sure how she contracted the disease, she's fighting it with every fiber of her being.

In the summer of 2011, Miller was diagnosed with Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) -- more commonly referred to as Lou Gehrig's Disease.

"I think I got this disease from two surgeries that went bad," Miller told The Brazil Times through e-mail correspondence. "One when I was 42 and one when I was 49. I had a lot of anesthesia, which can cause it, and the stress of the surgeries."

Miller added she has been told persons in the military and professional football players are being diagnosed more frequently.

"Many military people coming back are getting it. It's a great deal of stress for them. (Congress) passed a bill for $60,000 for research. The (National Football League) contributed $30,000 because many football players get it."

Since her diagnosis, however, Miller has fought back.

Shortly after being diagnosed, she was placed on a waiting list in order to have the opportunity to use an experimental drug to help combat the disease.

The waiting period was close to a full year.

"You had to pass a breathing test of more than 65 percent to get in the trial," Miller said. "They only allowed a certain number of people. I was the last one at IU."

Miller said the trial drug she is on is called dexpramipexole. According to her doctors, the drug slows the disease.

The drug is currently not on the market. But in September 2009, it was placed in the United States Food and Drug Administration "Fast Track" Development program, which accelerates approval of investigated new drugs undergoing clinical trials.

According to statistics through the clinical trials, in 2010, Phase II of the investigation -- involving 102 patients -- revealed a "slowing of ALS disease progression."

Miller got involved in the clinical trials as a part of Phase III.

"It has shown a lot of success," Miller said. "My doctor said some people have good success, some stay the same and some don't have results."

Miller said she's not sure how long she will have to stay on the drug.

"Only the people in the trial get it now," she said.

Those with ALS suffer from progressive weakness, muscle atrophy and fasciculation (twitching), muscle spasticity, difficulty speaking, difficulty swallowing and a decline in breathing ability.

The disease is often fatal and the life expectancy of an ALS patient averages 2-5 years after diagnosis.

But Miller remains optimistic, saying her doctors believe a cure is within reach.

"My doctor thinks (a cure may be found) soon," she said. "I read an article he wrote five years ago and they thought they were making progress. They are doing bone marrow stem cell (research) at the Mayo Clinic."

Prior to her diagnosis, Miller was an art teacher at Northview High School from 1995-98, and 2003-06.

She also taught art at Forest Park and Jackson Township elementary schools until 2011, when the illness no longer allowed her to teach.

Since her diagnosis, Miller has used her artistic talents to help the ALS Association Indiana Chapter by drawing pictures on cards.

Recently, she and others from Brazil took part in the Walk to Defeat ALS Indianapolis Walk.

"Team Brazil" helped raise more than $16,000 in funds for research.

"I want to thank my team for all their help and everyone who supported our cause for research," Miller said.

Miller and her husband Brad are the parents of two children, Sam, 19, and Josh, 23.

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Traci,I will pray for you and your family,ALS has touched the lives of many of my family.

-- Posted by millie09 on Wed, Sep 26, 2012, at 6:27 PM

Traci, My thoughts are with you. it's been a long time. Great to see you are living such a rich and wonderful life.

Your friend from long ago,

Dottie Enrico

-- Posted by dottie.enrico on Wed, Sep 26, 2012, at 9:02 PM

Traci, my prayers will be prayed to God for you.

-- Posted by Tracy Jones on Thu, Sep 27, 2012, at 10:42 PM

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