When I pick a movie, it’s always a mystery, because I love having something to solve. It’s no wonder Sjögren’s syndrome fascinates me.
I imagined I’d be a ballerina or a piano teacher. But in a college immunology class, I found a real-life mystery to tackle when I learned how much can go wrong in the immune system.
Most people study a disease because someone they love has it or died from it. It was purely by chance that Sjögren’s turned out to run in my family. My grandmother was the first to be diagnosed. A journal article I read described my mother’s health issues completely, and her physicians agreed—she also had Sjögren’s.
My mother is a classic example of Sjögren’s. The dry eyes and mouth, severe nerve and gastrointestinal problems, asthma and ongoing infections. The things she deals with just to survive are almost unbearable.
Sjögren’s typically strikes women around age 55. While that’s still a few years away for me and my daughter, our family history will certainly keep me vigilant.
Only three or four clinics like our Sjögren’s clinic at OMRF exist. No matter how much research money we have, we must have patients. Without them, the research can’t happen. For the sake of all the patients out there, I hope Sjögren’s is not a mystery that takes 20 years to solve.
In Sjögren’s syndrome, the immune system gradually attacks and destroys the salivary glands and nervous system. Common symptoms include dry eyes, dry mouth, severe fatigue, arthritis, short-term memory loss and kidney problems. To participate in the Sjögren’s research study, call 405-271-2574 or 800-605-7447.