The average American might not be interested in walking two miles every day. However, for Patricia Coleman, it is an activity in which she proudly partakes! In honor of Sarcoidosis Awareness Month, we want to shed light on her story as seen in the Jackson Sun a few years ago.
When Coleman was first diagnosed with sarcoidosis, she left her job working at a car plant. For the next two years, she was mostly bed ridden and struggled daily with fatigue and lack of energy. Coleman recounts the determination that allowed her to finally shake the fatigue and get back on her feet, saying:
“I’m not going to let [Sarcoidosis] control me.”
What is Sarcoidosis?
Sarcoidosis occurs when the body overreacts to a micro-bacteria. The body attempts to separate its exposure and goes too far by building masses near various organs. This disease often begins in the lungs, but it can spread to more dangerous areas like the liver or even the eyes or heart.
This disease can be difficult to diagnose because it is so complicated, and there is not a simple blood test to diagnose it. Sarcoidosis is composed of a handful of factors: From environmental to the immune system to genetics. Likewise, treatment is not a simple process, and while steroids are a popular form of treatment, they are not a good option for long-term use.
Sarcoidosis is a fairly common disease and its reach is not unbiased. It’s especially common in the southeast part of the United States, and the African-American community is disproportionately affected.
Coleman, who is African American, did not always plan to advocate for awareness. In fact, her own desire to be a mentor did not begin until long after her diagnosis.
Coleman decided to advocate for awareness of her disease back in 2000, when she first attended a conference about sarcoidosis. She explains how being around people with her disorder made her feel less alone and learning more about her disease made her feel more empowered.
So, Coleman founded her own support group in 2006.
This support group consists of at least 30 people who regularly meet at the local Baptist church where Coleman lives. She even hosted the seventh sarcoidosis walk-a-thon in 2016!