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As March is Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Month, we remember David Humm, native Las Vegan, former Bishop Gorman quarterback, who played as a quarterback in the NFL from 1975–84 for the Oakland / Los Angeles Raiders, the Buffalo Bills, and the Baltimore Colts. At the age of 36, he was diagnosed with MS, losing the use of his legs by the time he was 47.
Raider for life
David was in a wheelchair by the time his daughter, Courtney, was 8. Yet, she says, her father was a willing accomplice in her school show and tells, sharing football stories and memorabilia, and giving her classmates rides in his wheelchair.
“I played every sport and by my graduation, he had only missed two of my games, and we all gave him good-natured crap for those two,” recalls Courtney.
David’s brother, Tom, once asked Raiders owner Al Davis why their family loved David so much. The reply? David’s relentless commitment to excellence and his pride and poise on the field, in the broadcast booth and in life.
The Raiders’ support — and David’s tenacity — lasted to the end. When David was very ill, Al’s son and Raiders owner today, Mark Davis, spent time in David’s hospital room. The pair had great respect for each other, says Lori.
A family affair
Courtney, the primary caregiver for her father, says he almost died when she was 12 and again when she was 21: “He was crazy tough. Mentally, he never faltered. Physically, he was really good until he just wasn’t.”
Even from his wheelchair, David would say, “MS is not going to beat me.”
Yet, he opted never to have treatments for his MS. Ultimately, David realized you can’t eat or exercise your way out of this disease, says Tom: “That was a big departure because in high school football in our era, you didn’t get hurt. You played through.”
It was his sister, Lori’s, MS diagnosis in 2005 that opened David’s eyes to the benefits of disease-modifying therapies (DMTs).
“He saw me doing so well and couldn’t deny the difference,” says Lori, who walks without assistance and frequently hears, “What?
You have MS? But you look so good!”
David died in 2018 at age 65; Courtney was 28.
A disease that doesn’t kill, but shortens lifespan
Affecting nearly 1 million Americans, MS is one of the leading causes of non- traumatic disability in young adults.
“MS is an autoimmune demyelinating disease of the central nervous system, meaning immune cells target your own body, destroying the myelin, a protective cover on the nerves,” explains Le Hua, MD, Director, Neuroimmunology and Multiple Sclerosis Program at Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health.
The first therapy for MS was approved in 1993, and there has been an explosion of therapies in the last 10 years.
“Even today, a lot of people still aren’t getting the treatment they need,” says Dr. Hua. “DMTs reduce the frequency and severity of MS attacks. All current research indicates that individuals will be less disabled if on a treatment. Even a five-year delay from diagnosis to treatment has a significant negative impact in wellbeing.”
In addition to DMTs, today’s standard of MS care dictates a multidisciplinary team approach to address symptom and lifestyle management, including a specialized MS neurology provider and experts in neurorehabilitation, behavioral health and more, with a shared goal to improve quality of life.
What’s next in MS? Dr. Hua predicts:
• Improved biomarkers – treatment response, early predictors of progression
• Better interventions for disabling, invisible symptoms, such as numbness and eyesight
• Evidence to guide treatment approaches
• New treatment targets (reparative/ restorative; neuroprotective)
To make an appointment at Southern Nevada’s only National Multiple Sclerosis Society Partner in Care, please call 702.483.6000 or learn more at clevelandclinic.org/NevadaMS.
To support our MS program, contact us at DonateNevada@ccf.org or 702.263.9797.
To see entire “Most Frequent Multiple Sclerosis Symptoms” graphic.
Photo: “Most Frequent Multiple Sclerosis Symptoms” courtesy of Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health and NevadaMSBack to All