JUNEAU -- Rep. Charisse Millett said Monday that doctors have discovered a lesion in her brain that is most likely a sign she has multiple sclerosis.
Millett, an Anchorage Republican who represents the lower Hillside since her first election in 2008, has so far missed the 2014 Legislative session dealing with pain in her back. The lesion was discovered in an MRI ordered by the doctor treating her back pain, but was unrelated to her spinal problem, she said.
The back pain is the result of a damaged disc that will require surgery after the session. She said she plans to get a steroid injection in her spine that should reduce the pain and inflammation and allow her to return to Juneau by Friday.
The possible MS diagnosis is more troubling. Millett, 49, said she plans to take a day trip to Seattle from Juneau for further tests that will likely confirm the diagnosis.
"It's just shocking," she said of sudden turn of events. "There's no cure for MS. It's a slow progression," she said.
However, with medication, proper diet and other treatment, the disease can be controlled and she should be able to lead her normal life, she said. She agreed to publicly describe her illnesses to curb rumors that she has brain cancer.
"I'm fine -- I don't want people to bury me yet," Millett said.
When she returns to Juneau, her back problems will require her to use a walker for a while, joining Sen. Johnny Ellis on the walking-disabled list. He's using a quad cane around the Capitol as a result of surgery for prostate cancer.
Meanwhile, Sen. Fred Dyson, R-Eagle River, has returned to Juneau after a medical absence, showing up on the Senate floor for the first time Monday. Dyson had surgery to remove his thymus, a small immune-system organ in the chest near the heart.
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By RICHARD MAUER