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Jan 18, 2022

Marlyn Vansen – M.S. Warrior

Marlyn Vansen

It came as a shocker over the weekend when one of Belize’s top female performers, Marlyn Vansen, announced that she is battling multiple sclerosis. The twenty-five-year-old singer, dancer, and mother of a one-year-old daughter was diagnosed earlier this month, but began experiencing its effects in November. Today, News Five’s Duane Moody found out more about the autoimmune disease, and what this means for Vansen and her music career.

 

David Vansen, Brother & Producer, Marlyn Vansen

“At this point, performing is definitely out of the question. She is weak, her muscles are cramping and she is not able to exert herself physically. So performing-wise it is out of the question.”

 

David Vansen

Duane Moody, Reporting

She has graced many stages – giving you that all around experience –singing and performing with her dancers and it hits hard right here at Channel Five as she grew up performing on our shows. But, Marlyn Vansen’s lifelong dream as a performer may have come to an end. This is because on January eighth, 2022 she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.

 

David Vansen

“It started on the latter half of November. Of course we did not know what it was right away. She started with symptoms of seizures. One day she had half of her body just randomly paralysed. That happened for like a minute and then it happened again later on in the day and the day after that. And since then, she’s been having repeated episodes of these seizures. We basically got about four diagnoses and latest diagnosis was MS when she did an M.R.I; they saw the lesions on her brain.”

 

Multiple sclerosis is a chronic disease that affects the central nervous system. It is when the immune system attacks nerve fibres and myelin sheathing in the brain and spinal cord. On average in Belize, there are four to five persons, primary young women, diagnosed yearly with the condition. Neurologist Doctor John Sosa says that there are four types and that if it is not treated; it can lead to paralysis or even blindness.

 

Dr. John Sosa

Dr. John Sosa, Neurologist

“It’s like a bad luck thing. It can happen to anyone between the age of ten and fifty usually, but mostly to younger women on average age twenty-three years old. You have different types of multiple sclerosis. We divide them. So you have what we call relapsing/remitting; we have what we call that you progress secondarily; you have a thing that we call you progress primarily or from the beginning and then you where you get really sick and you call that fulminate. And then you have what we call variants which are two. With the first type, you get sick, you get better, you get sick, you get better. Then with the second type, when you get sick, you stay sick, which means you stay with a paralysis or you stay blind or you stay weak on one side like a stroke – different things can happen to you. I have patients with all types in Belize that we’ve seen and unfortunately, we have some young patients and it happens more in women than in men – much more usually.  And I have some young women who are totally damaged – they are blind they are paralysed and things like that and they can’t get fixed.”

 

Marlyn Vansen

Fortunately, in the case of Vansen, it was detected early before any permanent incapacitating effects. But it has been tough; she is unable to properly care for her one-year-old daughter, but the family has rounded her with support. Brother David Vansen, who produced majority of her hit tracks and shares a close bond with Marlyn, says it’s been a rollercoaster of emotions for everyone in the family.

 

David Vansen

“I try not to dwell on yesterday or tomorrow; I try to live in the moment. And so we have this problem in front of us and my first instinct is to let’s make sure she is comfortable. Let’s make sure we search today. If I don’t find an answer today, I will find an answer tomorrow. I can’t be weak for her, in front of her. Of course, I have my moments where it hits me and I am like mien, this world is crazy because she was fine last year and she was on stage last year just doing one of her best shows and then now it’s just like.”

 

There is no cure for multiple sclerosis and the treatment is expensive. Doctor Sosa breaks down that reality.

 

Marlyn Vansen

Dr. John Sosa

“Unfortunately the cost of managing multiple sclerosis is really exorbitant, really expensive and so some people don’t get the treatment they need. The type that we can treat is called relapsing/remitting and the treatment is called interferon – long term. And the treatment for short term when you get like a relapse or you get sick is a special steroid that you give in the vein, which is also expensive. So the treatment long term is very much experience, around four thousand Belize or so for a month for an injection that you get two to three times a week.”

 

Marlyn Vansen

David Vansen

“She is on treatment for seizures at the moment. We recently located a source for her medication; it is quite expensive so it is just to have her take the medication to slow down the intensity and the growth and progression of this disease. We find that the medication is cheaper in our region; Mexico, Guatemala. So we found a source that we can actually…we are grateful that we could have bought the first box with donations from people since we’ve put out the news. We were able to buy the first box. And so she’ll be fine for the next six weeks and then we will continue to raise funds.”

 

But, David is hopeful that with support from her fans and people who want to help, Marlyn will be able to continue making music at least.

 

David Vansen

“The music takes the stress away from her so writing, singing producing, composing all that stuff. That definitely will help her to take herself out of all of this because it is pretty overwhelming, I can imagine for her. I think the music will help her. One of the things with MS patients is that they can’t be stressed; it just wears them out more so music will definitely be a remedy for her. So we will continue to make music. We actually recorded a song in the middle of all of this. Of course the pace is a bit slower, but we managed to record an entire song and I will be putting that out as soon as possible.”

 

Duane Moody for News Five.


Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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