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Brandon Bowling fell so in love with Quartano-Bowling that, after just one month of dating, he even offered to follow her when she decided to move to New Orleans.
During this time, she was chosen to be one of the first MS patients to try out a new treatment called Lemtrada.
Going to frat parties, dating, and studying for a career in hospital administration were Leah Quartano-Bowling’s top priorities, so much so that, at first, the 21-year-old college student barely noticed the tingling in her hands and feet.
But as the tingling grew into numbness and took over more of her body, she found it harder to ignore.
She could continue living her life in fear of MS and trying to hide it, or she could face it, even embrace it. “I came to realize that this is what I was meant to be,” she says.
At the time she was diagnosed, she’d just started dating a cute med student. His reaction — he was almost speechless, just saying, ‘I’m so sorry’ over and over again — was my first indication this really was a big deal.” “Dating with MS was just awkward,” she says.
“You can’t tell I’m sick just from looking at me.” And even though she looked fine, she wasn’t fine.
Eventually, when she found herself so exhausted that she had to sleep 18 hours a day, she knew she had a serious problem. “At first, I was so angry — angry at God, at the universe, at my own body — it just felt so unfair,” she says.
Six weeks of doctor appointments and tests later, she had her answer: The bright, young beauty with everything in front of her was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, a disease known for stealing futures. “All I wanted to do was hang with friends, but I had to stay in every night, get painful injections every other day and go to bed early.” Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disorder that causes the body to attack the myelin sheaths on the outside of nerves, forming lesions that cause serious neuromuscular problems.