Meeka Marc wrote -
In January 2016, I was diagnosed with a debilitating auto-immune disorder known as Sjogren's (SHOW-GRIN) Syndrome. My diagnosis came months after I initially began to experience symptoms of chronic fatigue, joint and muscle ache/swelling, dry eyes and mouth, a severe loss in appetite that contributed to a 15 pound weight loss in just 6 weeks, and hair loss. Though I had not heard of this disease until I was diagnosed, I soon learned that it is one of the most common auto-immune disorders today. Despite this, Sjogren's Syndrome is astonishingly under diagnosed and when it is, individuals are well into their 40s or older.
The toughest part for me was knowing that something was going on with my health and having to bounce from doctor to doctor before receiving the proper preventative care that I deserved. The resistance I encountered from health professionals to carefully review my labs was primarily due to my demographic. Because I am only 23, they felt that the odds of me actually having Sjogren's Syndrome were relatively low. Instead I was told that I was depressed and just needed to sleep.
I knew that this was not the case and advocated for myself by seeking out rheumatologists at Columbia University Medical Center --- where I was finally diagnosed, received medication, and have been monitored monthly since January.
In honor of Sjogren's Awareness month, I am raising $505.00 to donate to research and contribute to the goal of going #50in5. This means that in 5 years we hope to see the age of diagnosis decrease by 50% with the help of research as well as growing awareness.
Though I have not gotten used to the notion that I may not be able to use my body in the ways that I used to as yet, I am one step closer to getting there by joining the Sjogren's Syndrome Foundation as an Awareness Ambassador. My hope is to educate more people about the disorder throughout the month of April with the #BoldBlue campaign. In addition, I hope to inspire fellow individuals living with Sjogren's Syndrome who are also in their 20s to share their experiences of triumph.
I am grateful that I am a part of the small margin of people who have been diagnosed early on and I hope that this fundraiser can contribute to more diagnoses under the age of 40.
The amazingly dope lifestyle brand, 3am Saturday (http://www.3amsaturday.com/shop/boldblue) will also be donating a portion of its baseball hat proceeds to the fundraiser, so please visit the website and purchase yours while supplies last!
Thank you for reading my story, and I hope you find it in your hearts to donate and/or purchase a hat at 3amSaturday.com. Nothing beats giving and being fashion forward at the same time ;)
Lastly, follow my #BoldBlue campaign during the month of April to learn more facts about this auto-immune disorder.
Shameeka A. Marc <3