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Marc Coppins - Chicago

STARTING OVER – After MS diagnosis, man changes career, finds joy in Web Design

By Sarah Chuby, The Battle Creek Enquirer, July 24, 2003

Marc Coppins always saw himself as a self-starter – but he didn’t realize how motivated he was until tragedy struck.

In 1999, Coppins said he remembers reaching for the refrigerator handle, but he wasn’t sure why he woke up in the hospital.

Coppins, then 30, said he recalled getting very dizzy before passing out.

When an MRI was done, scars were found on his brain and doctors told him that he had the same disorder that his mom has had for approximately 18 years; multiple sclerosis.

MS is a chronic unpredictable neurological disease when the body’s immune system attacks the myelin sheaths around nerves, according to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

“It really attacked my eyes. It felt as if I were in a constant earthquake. I thought the refrigerator handle was right in front of me when in fact I later found out it was about 10 feet away,” said Coppins, 34. “My vertigo was so bad that I blacked out.”

But Coppins said he wasn’t going to let the disorder stop him from living a full life, so he got up every day and went to work.

“It was not the end of the world,” he said. “It just pushed me to try harder and to do more.”

Coppins said when his condition worsened he lost his job as a factory supervisor in the Detroit area.

“The heat would sometimes get up to 115 degrees and that irritated my MS, “ he said. “I couldn’t work there anymore. I fell into a deep depression.”

With his age, Coppins, who now lives in Dowling with his wife Barb, said he couldn’t understand why he got MS.

“My balance got so bad that I broke down and started using a cane,” he said. “I kept thinking, ‘I am too young for this.’”

Coppins said he didn’t know his next step, so Michigan Rehabilitation Services enrolled him into Michigan Career and Technical Institute, where he studied computer programming with Professor Dave Boshka. He moved from the Detroit area to live on the Plainwell campus.

“What really turned everything around was when MRS sent me to school,” he said. “I decided that I do not live with MS, MS lives with me.”

In November 2000, when Coppins said he started taking medicine for his MS, he was surprised at the results.

And two weeks after starting the prescription, Coppins, who occasionally had to use a wheelchair, said the MS symptoms started to stableize.

“My injections were very painful, but I was very lucky that they worked for me,” he said. “Now I hardly use a cane anymore.”

So Coppins started working again and took on a job at the Battle Creek Federal Center.

“But it really took a toll on my body,” he said. “Especially the drive.” Coppins said he had to quit after six months.

Coppins said he wanted to work, but he needed to do something where he could be at home, so he used his MCTI training and began a web site building company.

“I started my own business making web sites for small companies, www.NetMagikPros.com. I really enjoy working with computers and people and if I need to lay down for 20 minutes or so, I can.”

Self-employed, Coppins said his family and friends are proud of him. “When I left, they thought that I was just going to go to school and graduate. A lot of family figured that I would just be on Social Security Disability for the rest of my life,” he said. “When old friends (from the factory where he used to work) tell my brother Matt that they are sorry that I have MS, he tells them, ‘What are you feeling sorry for him for? MS was just the thing he needed to show everyone what he is capable of overcoming.’”

And when Coppins went for his last MRI, the doctor gave him good news. “I was told that the scars on my brain have gotten smaller,” he said. “I do believe in miracles.”

“Many people say that things can’t change. But I think it has to do with your mindset,” he said. “I think a lot of how well I am doing has to do with my attitude.”

For more information about Coppins and his company, Net Magik Pros Web Design, visit www.NetMagikPros.com or call him at 269-965-2118.

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