LISNASKEA woman Jean Henry is aiming to raise awareness of a rare lung disease that she was struck down with four years ago.
The local post-mistress was diagnosed with sarcoidosis, a rare autoimmune condition which affects the organs of the body. Usually occurring in patients between 20-40 years of age, sarcoidosis commonly affects the lungs, lymph nodes, eyes, joints, and less commonly, the brain and heart. It can also cause blood calcium levels to be raised while another big problem is fatigue.
Mother and grandmother, Jean initially began feeling unwell in May 2014. The condition struck her first in the kidneys and given that the symptoms are similar to cancer, she was left fearing the worst.
“Sarcoidosis can hit you at any age and attack any organ in your body,” Jean explained. “It came on me quite suddenly one morning when I woke up with an awful fever. The first thing that also struck me was the fatigue followed by muscle and joint pain.
“I would come home from work and just collapse and this was followed by a skin rash, shortness of breath and sore eyes. I lost my appetite so I began losing weight and ended up in the South West Acute Hospital.
“The doctors did every test on me that they could think of before I was finally diagnosed and I had never heard of sarcoidosis.”
As a result of her condition for which there is no cure, Jean has learned to control it through steroids. She is still regularly hit by the fatigue and must also avoid direct sunlight.
Jean is keen to raise awareness of the condition within Fermanagh by highlighting the work of the Sarcoidosis Support Group in Enniskillen. The group has a Facebook page and its members meet four times a year in Fermanagh House but are also planning to hold some charity events later this year.
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