Rare Diseases

Why these 5 Olympians with health conditions are #1 in our hearts

The 2018 PyeongChang Olympic Games have come to a close. Did you happen to catch any of these 5 Olympians with health conditions (recently highlighted in The Mighty)? Their performances were inspiring — but their perspective on living with illness is what’s really golden. U.S. pairs figure skater Alexa Scimeca-Knierim developed a rare, life-threatening gastrointestinal disorder that caused episodes of vomiting and severe weight loss and has been hard to diagnose. She had three abdominal surgeries and has shown her scars on Instagram. After a long and painful recovery, Alexa was able to return to skating. “My whole outlook changed,” she told Team USA. “I was grateful to have the chance to fall instead of stressing out over falling or not. Was a fall as big of a deal as a drain getting pulled out of me? No, not at all. I was grateful.” In PyeongChang, Alexa and her husband/skating partner, Chris Knierim, took home the bronze medal in the figure skating team competition and placed 15th in the pairs competition. Alexa shared this photo with SELF for a video about her health problems and extraordinary road to the Olympics. American long-track speed skater Brittany Bowe sustained a concussion when she collided with another skater in 2016. Later, after fainting multiple …

Why these 5 Olympians with health conditions are #1 in our hearts Read More »

Team of Advisors member Kimberly’s care team fell apart and she was left with 10 days to build a new one

  Kimberly (firefly84) is part of the PatientsLikeMe 2016-2017 Team of Advisors. She’s living with autonomic neuropathy, a rare disease that  prematurely ended her career as a registered nurse. In her time as an RN, she was often charged with navigating the ins and outs of insurance companies on behalf of her patients, something she says can be like “trying to find a needle in a haystack.” Kimberly tells the story of how eight of her doctors became out-of-network overnight when her insurance changed, and how she navigated the system to replace those providers and get her care team back on track. Here’s her story… Last fall we knew that there was a strong possibility that there was going to be a change in our employer based insurance, and that turned out to be true. A decision had been made and we received final word ten days prior to the switch. Along with the letter, there was a form that you could fill out if you had a complex case, or needed assistance setting up care. As a patient who happened to have a very complex case, as well as someone who was going to be utilizing resources galore, this …

Team of Advisors member Kimberly’s care team fell apart and she was left with 10 days to build a new one Read More »

Member Kimberly opens up about living with a rare disease

Today is Rare Disease Day 2017, and to raise awareness Kimberly (firefly84), a member of the 2016-2017 Team of Advisors, recently shared some of her experiences living with autonomic neuropathy, a rare disease: “Perhaps you’ve heard the saying ‘when you hear hoof beats, think of horses not zebras,’ but I am the zebra in that herd of horses.” Kimberly touches on the impact of living with a rare disease, and also what she had to go through to get a diagnosis for her condition. Watch her video to hear what she has to say… Share this post on Twitter and help spread the word.

“We are the ones that know what is required to give us the care we deserve” — Member Ann shares her story for Rare Disease Day

 February 29 only comes around every four years – and this year, it’s extra special: Today marks the 9th annual Rare Disease Day. In the United States, a disease is considered rare if it affects less than 200,000 people at any given time.1  This year’s theme is all about elevating the patient voice, so we caught up with member Ann (annpkerrigan) to learn more about what it’s like to live with alkaptonuria (AKU), a rare disease that affects 159 PatientsLikeMe members. Here’s what she had to say… How would you describe AKU to someone who has never heard of it? I suffer from AKU, which is a rare genetic disease with no cure or treatment but not fatal. This is what I was told six years ago when diagnosed after many years attempting to identify my condition. AKU is a metabolic disease, which causes severe early-onset osteoarthritis. It can be a painful and degenerative disease. Over the years, I’ve learned to adapt and make changes to my home. I live alone and it’s crucial I can manage everything. Prior to diagnosis my knees were very painful so I moved to a ground floor apartment in Bristol to be closer to work and because using stairs became impossible. My GP referred an …

“We are the ones that know what is required to give us the care we deserve” — Member Ann shares her story for Rare Disease Day Read More »

Recapping with our Team of Advisors!

Many of you will remember meeting our inaugural Team of Advisors from when we first shared about this exciting team last year! This group of 14 were selected from over 500 applicants in the community and have been incredible in their dedication and desire to bring the patient voice directly to PatientsLikeMe. As the team is wrapping up their year-long term as advisors, we wanted to make sure we update the community on all the hard work they’ve done on your behalf! First Ever In-Person Patient Summit in Cambridge Your team of patient advisors travelled from all over the country to join us for 2 days here in Cambridge. They met with PatientsLikeMe staff, got a tour of the offices and began their collaboration together as a team! Blog Series The advisors have also been connecting with the broader community as part of an ongoing series here on the blog! This is an impressive group and we hope you’ll read through to learn more about the team.  Some of the interviews featured so far include profiles on Becky, Lisa, Dana, Emilie, Karla, Deb, Amy, Steve, Charles, Letitia and Kitty. If you haven’t had the chance to read their stories and what they’re passionate about yet, feel …

Recapping with our Team of Advisors! Read More »

Getting to know our Team of Advisors – Amy

We’re been introducing the PatientsLikeMe Team of Advisors on the blog over the past 6 months, and today, we’re happy to announce Amy, a member living with a rare genetic disease called Fabry. Below, she shares about the importance of being aware of patients as individuals, and how she’s learned to live (and thrive!) with Fabry. About Amy (aka meridiansb): Amy is currently on the Patient Advisory Board for Amicus Therapeutics where she serves as a patient voice for researchers as they work to develop a new drug for Fabry Disease. Amy is a great champion to have in your corner, with a self-reported ‘wicked sense of humor’, and passion for connecting others to the right resources and information. She has experience advocating for others as a medical social worker, and believes in the importance of getting to know a patient population, writing materials that they can relate to, and understanding how managing their condition fits into their life as a whole. Her tip for researchers and healthcare professionals: “Remember, not everyone fits into neat categories. Those that fall outside of what’s typical can be an invaluable resource when researching a particular condition.” Amy on patient centeredness: “Patient-centeredness means that above …

Getting to know our Team of Advisors – Amy Read More »

Day-by-day, hand-in-hand

All around the world, everyone impacted by a rare disease is taking everything day-by-day. But they can take each day hand-in-hand with the help and support of others. Today, on Rare Disease Day (RDD), EURORDIS (Rare Diseases Europe) and its global partners are calling on everyone to lend a hand to anyone affected by a rare disease. RDD’s international theme is “Living with a rare disease” because every patient’s story and needs are different, and only by sharing our experiences and raising awareness can we all hope to improve the lives of those living with a rare disease. It’s also about the million of parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and friends that are impacted and who are living day-by-day, hand-in-hand with rare disease patients.1 Check out the official video below: According to the Global Genes Project, there are 350 million people living with a rare disease around the globe. Just how many is that? If you gathered those people into one country, it would be the third most-populous country in the world. There are more than 7,000 identified rare diseases, from skin conditions to progressive neurological disorders, and more are being discovered every day.2 Here’s how you can get …

Day-by-day, hand-in-hand Read More »

Uniting for hope on Rare Disease Day 2014

Today, healthcare professionals, research advocates and many people living with rare conditions are coming together to observe Rare Disease Day. It’s all about raising awareness for rare and genetic diseases, improving access to treatments and learning more about what exactly makes a condition rare. In the United States, a disease is considered rare if it affects less than 200,000 people at any given time. Rare diseases affect almost 1 in 10 Americans, and many times, they cause common symptoms that can be mistaken for other conditions.1   All across the world, people are raising awareness for rare disease. Here are just a few things you can do to join them. Wear your favorite pair of jeans today to help the Global Genes Project promote the Blue Denim Genes Ribbon Use the hashtags #CareAboutRare and #WRDD2014 and share them with @GlobalGenes on Twitter and Facebook Find an event in your state and participate in local activities Print out this flyer, take a photo of yourself with it, and submit it to Handprints Across America Rare diseases have a personal connection with PatientsLikeMe – our co-founders’ brother, Stephen, was diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) in 1998, and their family’s experiences with the condition led to …

Uniting for hope on Rare Disease Day 2014 Read More »

Living with hope – An interview on AKU with Alycia and Nate

We’ve had the pleasure of talking with and featuring many PatientsLikeMe members on the blog over the years, but Nate is the youngest by far. He’s just 5 years old and is living with Alkaptonuria (AKU), a rare metabolic disease, sometimes called Black Bone Disease. Recently, we had the chance to chat with his mom, Alycia, who spoke with us about Nate’s experiences with AKU and her role and philosophy as his caregiver. To get started, what would you like everyone to know about your son? My son is an extremely happy and energetic 5 year old. He has recently started school and loves playing sport. His favourite sports are cricket and Australian Rules Football. He has a younger brother who he loves getting into mischief with. He also has a rare Metabolic disease called Alkaptonuria. However, we have chosen not to tell him about his disease at this stage. Do you remember what the first sign or symptom was? And can you talk a little about the diagnosis process? The only symptoms he had were black urine and dark ear wax. We never really thought much about his dark urine because we only noticed it when he had accidents …

Living with hope – An interview on AKU with Alycia and Nate Read More »

Keith & Sarah’s personal journey with rare lung disease. Part III, “Bonus round”

Over the last few months, Keith and Sarah have been sharing their journey with us. In this final interview of our three-part series, they talk about how he got on a transplant list and their “phones at the dinner table” policy. If you missed our first two interviews with Keith and Sarah, you can find them here. What did you have to do to get on a transplant list? Did you have to meet certain criteria? [Keith] The transplant assessment process is an intense and very time-consuming one. When you are contacted about being assessed for transplant, you are sent a large envelope listing out a weeks worth of testing, doctors visits, and appointments in Toronto at Toronto General Hospital. The hospital evaluates you on many things, and ultimately if you are deemed “healthy” enough (because you can actually be too sick, or too healthy) as a result of this testing, you are placed on the list. There were psychological assessments, nuclear cardiac testing, liver testing, kidney testing, pulmonary function testing, physical testing, blood tests (LOTS of blood tests) to name a few. Can you talk about your “phones at the dinner table” policy and how it changed? [Sarah] Phones …

Keith & Sarah’s personal journey with rare lung disease. Part III, “Bonus round” Read More »

Scroll to Top