FOR SIX years Grafton beautician Jess Hicks has lived with the knowledge she has the debilitating illness multiple sclerosis.
At the age of 20 she is now living with the hope she may be able to shake the disease.
Last month Jess became one of the first MS patients in Australia to use a new treatment called Lemtrada.
Jess said doctors at the Gold Coast University Hospital told her the treatment worked by breaking down her immune system and then letting it rebuild itself.
"MS is a disease where your immune system attacks your own body," she said. "The Lemtrada treatment takes it away then allows it to rebuild itself properly."
The radical treatment has some serious side effects.
"They told me about 70% of people who use it get some sort of thyroid disease," she said. "But at least they can treat that with drugs."
"Because your immune system is down, you are susceptible to all sorts of diseases. I'm trying to stay away from sick people."
She said her immune system would be fragile for at least six months. And then she has to give it another shock.
"Because there's a chance the treatment might not work the first time, I have to do it all again next year," she said.
Jess, who gave birth to her first child, Jayce, seven months ago, said her MS diagnosis at just 14 had spurred her into packing as much into her life as she could.
"There's never a morning I just get up to go to work," she said.
"Everyday I try to get as much done as I can."
At 17 Jess opened her first business, Deluxe Beauty Therapy, sharing premises with a local hairdresser.
The success of that business allowed her move into her own premises a year ago trading as Deluxe Hair Beauty and Massage
Now she is working with two massage therapists, a hair dresser and a nail technician contracted to the business.
"It was something I've always wanted to do, but I never thought it would happen so quickly," Jess said.
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