Go Fund Me Campaign

I feel incredibly fortunate to have been chosen to write this Go Fund Me campaign for Sarah. She is a beautiful person, with a heart of gold, who was incapacitated by a series of life-threatening conditions. Through phone conversations and email, I pieced together Sarah’s story. It was my intention to portray her not as a victim, but as a champion, bravely advocating for her own wellness. I have so much admiration for her and the battle she continues to fight.

Hello friends. My name is Shad, and I want to tell you a story.

It’s a love story about a brave warrior and the steadfast, devoted man at her side. Actually, he’s a warrior too, but in a different way than her. Fortunately, the world has room for many types of warriors!

The champion of our story is Sarah, and she is engaged to my friend, Joe. I’ve known Joe for about 15 years and I’ve always thought of him as one of the “good guys”. You know, the kind of guy who asks how you’re doing and actually listens to your response. He’s an HVAC repairman by trade, and customers love him because he’s interested in solving their dilemmas, not just putting a Band-aid on the problem.

About a decade ago Joe was on a routine service call when he met Sarah. At the time she had just moved back to Iowa from Miami to take care of her grandmother, who was suffering from dementia. They got to chatting, and Sarah shared that she was really into health and nutrition, and that she did specialty baking (think gluten-free) on the side. Wanting to support local business, Joe would occasionally order her treats for his crew.

Sarah told him that despite her lifestyle (she was a personal trainer and a runner) she had been experiencing a series of mysterious health issues that medical professionals couldn’t accurately diagnose. It started when she was bitten by an insect and passed out at work. Doctors assumed that she had an extreme reaction to a spider bite and told her that she would be fine.

But she wasn’t. Instead of recovering quickly, Sarah’s symptoms hung on and multiplied. When her beloved grandmother passed away, the stress pushed Sarah’s health over a cliff. Like an avalanche, the symptoms gained momentum.

Downward Spiral

Sarah began having digestive issues, which led to food sensitivities and a severely restricted diet. She developed chemical sensitivities, which she describes as “bloodhound nose”. Scents were magnified to the point where it was overwhelming, so she rarely left the house, the only place that she could control the environment.

Then physical pain set in. She was diagnosed with tendonitis, bleeding ulcers, rheumatoid arthritis, and unexplained fractures in the bones of her feet. All of these conditions happening at the same time made everyday movement difficult. Muscle spasms and fibromyalgia made her even more miserable.

But the worst was yet to come: one day Sarah woke up with terrible neck pain and vertigo. The symptoms worsened to the point where she could not move her head or stand for more than 30 seconds without excruciating pain. She felt crippled by the forces of gravity on her body.

Normally a very positive and up-beat person, Sarah became discouraged. Would the pain-filled days simply repeat in an endless loop? Was this all she could look forward to for the rest of her life?

By this point, you are probably wondering how one person could survive such an onslaught of medical problems. Me too!

Finally, a Real Diagnosis!

In 2017, a special blood test revealed that Sarah was suffering from Chronic Lyme Disease. For those who aren’t familiar, Lyme Disease is carried by biting insects (especially ticks) and can cause long-term illness or even death.

But naming Sarah’s condition didn’t make it stop. There’s no magic pill that makes Lyme go away. So, being the warrior that she is, Sarah battled to save her own life. She fought by using her brain, researching treatments, contacting experts, resisting the urge to give up. Western medicine didn’t seem to hold the answers; all it had to offer were dozens of pills and prescriptions with side-effects of their own. She turned to functional medicine experts – specialists that treated the body as a series of interconnected systems (also called holistic medicine). Then she caught a lucky break. Sarah found a chiropractor who would work with her in her home, and after months of sessions, she finally began to regain mobility. His dedication lifted her spirits and renewed her energy to fight.

A decade of chronic illness is not kind to the human body, and often induces more dysfunction. In Sarah’s case, she was also diagnosed with Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (CIRS), sometimes called Mold Biotoxin Illness. It is a very complicated genetic condition, but in short, it means that Sarah’s immune system can’t fight off the mold, biotoxins, bacteria, fungi, and viruses that most uncompromised immune systems defeat on the daily. Things that might cause you or me to sniffle wreak havoc on her.

Love Saves the Day

While Sarah was busy with her battles, Joe continued to live a normal life. He got married, became a father, and got divorced. Even after Sarah became too ill to bake, Joe couldn’t forget her. He loved her spirit, her optimism, and her refusal to wallow in self-pity. He’d check in with her every once in a while, making sure that she didn’t forget him either.

He wondered how she’d fared through the pandemic, so he called her. They talked for a long time, and he was pleased to hear that she had made tremendous progress in her wellness journey. Something had changed between them; they decided to go out.

From that point forward, it was obvious that they were destined to be together. Joe told me all about Sarah, describing her struggles and her bravery, and it was clear that he admired her strength of character. The look in his eyes when he talked about her told me everything I needed to know. Their love for one another is the kind of all-encompassing joy that most people just dream about. If I wasn’t so happy for them I’d be jealous!

They got engaged and decided to live together. Joe has a teenage son, Joey, who immediately accepted Sarah, and they adore each other. Sarah has said, “Finding love after a decade of being alone and in pain is a HUGE gift. Having this connection is so healing. I want to thrive and live out my passion for helping people to the fullest, and having such a caring partner is helping to make that a reality.”

Let’s Create a Happy Ending

If this was a fairy tale, this is the part where I’d say, “And they all lived happily ever after.” But this is real life, and it doesn’t work that way.

Sarah still struggles to manage her conditions. Her treatments are expensive, and most are not covered by insurance or public assistance. She can’t work, so Joe holds down two jobs. Recently they discovered a dangerously high level of biotoxins within the walls of their home, which has a negative effect on Sarah’s health. They are facing a nearly impossible choice: either remediate the toxins present within their current home, including all of its contents, or find a safer environment and replace all their possessions. Every residence that they consider will have to be cleared before they can move in. That will require an expensive army of advisors and experts to test for mold and biotoxins.

In becoming more familiar with CIRS, I’ve discovered that there are thousands of people suffering from this type of environmental illness, and that very little help is accessible to the average person. It’s not yet well understood, and until it becomes a plague, research funding won’t become available. In the meanwhile, people like Sarah and Joe are suffering, being broken not only by the physical and psychological symptoms of the illness, but also by the tremendous expense of treatment. It impacts every aspect of their lives, and it’s going to be a burden for a long, long time.

BOTTOM LINE: Treatment, remediation, relocation – it all costs money; money that they don’t have.

It’s important to find a place where Sarah can continue to heal. Joe’s hard work keeps them afloat, but there’s nothing extra, especially not the extraordinary amount that dealing with this illness will require.

I want to make life better for them, and I need YOUR help to do it.

I truly believe that easing the financial burden will be a blessing to them both. They can spend more time together with Joey, and I believe that will boost Sarah’s immune response.

These are two genuinely amazing people who deserve the opportunity to live a happy and fulfilled life. I stand in awe of their faith, their devotion, and their compassion for others. Please help me create a safe haven for them. I want to demonstrate that the love they have put out into the world comes back to them twofold. I want to see them get married and bring this journey of love and healing full circle. It’s your turn to assume the warrior spirit. Please join me in helping them win this battle.