National Chronic Cerebrospinal Venous Insufficiency Society Conference


Senator Statement Senator Jane Cordy October 9th, 2014

Hon. Jane Cordy: Honourable senators, I had the privilege — and it was a privilege — to attend the National CCSVI Society Conference held in Saskatoon this past weekend. It was my privilege not only because of the excellent speakers who were at the conference but, more importantly, because of the wonderful people who met with me and told me their stories.

They are my heroes: people who do not give up. These Canadians have been working passionately to make changes to the treatment of those with multiple sclerosis. Michelle Walsh, who was pregnant when I first met her and now has a healthy baby boy after having venoplasty, is a member of the MS advisory panel set up by Premier Wall in Saskatchewan.

Dr. Bill Code's story is remarkable. He was diagnosed with MS when he was 42 and was confined to a wheelchair. After undergoing the venoplasty procedure and making lifestyle changes he now travels the world, lectures and enjoys all aspects of his life. One would never guess that he has MS.

Sandra Birrell was told by her neurologist that she shouldn't continue to study because of her MS. Sandra successfully defended her PhD dissertation two weeks ago and is now Dr. Sandra Birrell. Honourable senators, these are just a few of the champions of MS that I spoke with on the weekend. They are moving forward and making a difference. We heard from MPs Ralph Goodale and Kirsty Duncan, both of whom are strong patient advocates. We heard from the Honourable Mark Docherty, an MLA from Regina who travelled to Romania to have the venoplasty procedure done and who spoke about his experiences.

Other speakers were Dr. Bernhard Juurlink, Dr. Mark Haacke, Dr. Michael Arata, Dr. Bill Code, Dr. Robert Zivadinov, Dr. Gordon Hasick, Kerri Cassidy from CCSVI Australia, Dr. Helen Kavnoudias, Dr. William Shaw and Dr. Teri Jaklin.

As each of the experts spoke during the conference, a lot of common themes emerged. Physicians and researchers working on MS have discovered similarities with Parkinson's, chronic fatigue, Lyme disease and dementia. As Dr. Zivadinov said, CCSVI is definitely bigger than MS.

We heard over and over again that there is a need for more study in this area and that there is no one-size-fits-all solution for Canadians with MS. The importance of a healthy diet and movement and exercise was emphasized, which I think is good advice for all of us whether we have MS or not. Lifestyle changes have also been shown to improve arterial compliance. As someone said, life is not a spectator sport. Get out of the bleachers.

Honourable senators, we must move forward with better investigation and protocols to collect the information to detect the prevalence of CCSVI. We should be open-minded. Those with MS deserve our support.