LAUNCESTON police officer Michael Mitchell has a message for fellow multiple sclerosis sufferers: there is hope.
After becoming Tasmania's first MS sufferer to undergo innovative bone marrow transplant treatment last November and returning to Canberra for tests last week, he is amazed at his improvement.
Mr Mitchell was told last week that the lesions that caused MS in his head had healed after the procedure.
Now he is working on the ones in his spine.
His expanded disability status scale, which qualifies his MS disability, has also declined from five to two since the treatment.
It's been hard work though - even for the former drugs squad detective who believes in pushing himself hard and never giving up.
``I must say that the diagnosis (of MS) hit me hard - I thought that I was bullet-proof,'' he said.
He volunteered for the Australian experimental surgery after watching a documentary on Ben Leahy, the first person in the country to receive the treatment from Canberra neurologist Colin Andrews and haematologist Michael Pidcock.
There are strict guidelines to qualify for the procedure, including being under 40, having the disease for less than five years and other treatments failing to work.
Mr Mitchell's real treatment started in October 2010 when he went to Canberra to have his stem cells harvested.
``That hurt,'' he said.
An exhausted Mr Mitchell came home to Tasmania while his stem cells were frozen.
A few weeks later he was required to undergo six days of chemotherapy, ``to kill off everything including the white blood cells,'' before the frozen stem cells were returned to his body.
He was then placed in isolation while he recovered because he had no immune system to fight infection.
But Mr Mitchell, 41, now back at work as one of the two police officers at Launceston's PCYC, would do it again if necessary.
``I said I wouldn't at first, but now I would,'' he said.
``The biggest thing with people with MS is that it's always on your mind - at least now I can get on with my life without worrying about things.
``I have so much to do.''