When you’re diagnosed with a rare condition it can change the entire course of your life, at least at the beginning. But those living with diseases like these are fighters. This is the story of Mel McFayden, a woman diagnosed with myasthenia gravis who is determined not to let her diagnosis stop her from doing what she loves.
Mel has always loved to run. Even after she received her myasthenia gravis diagnosis in 2017, she was determined to continue participating in the sport. One of her goals has always been to participate in the Boston Marathon and she’s proud to say she’s finally crossed this goal off the list.
She’s attended the event year after year, cheering on all of the participants. Mel explains it’s surreal to say that this time, she was one of the runners.
Myasthenia gravis is an autoimmune condition that causes the body to attack its own neuromuscular system. It results in muscle fatigue due to an impaired communication between the nerves and muscles in the body. The disease can affect muscles throughout the body such as the eyes, limbs, and throat.
Mel’s journey began in 2017. She first noticed that her eyelid on one eye had drooped and her vision had changed. After telling her doctor about her blurry vision, she was referred to the Brigham Hospital. It wasn’t long until she received her myasthenia gravis diagnosis.
In 2018 she underwent surgery to remove her thymus gland. Doctor’s still aren’t sure how exactly the thymus is involved in the condition however, many patients who have the surgery have better outcomes. Mel is one of these patients. She fortunately hasn’t experienced any further eye issues since the surgery.
Mel explains she is extremely grateful to her care team at the Brigham Hospital. She says they helped her to regain control after her diagnosis and she’s grateful to have run on their Stepping Strong team for the race.
Mel ran with the Stepping Strong Marathon Team.
Mel has a special connection to this team, who is sponsored by the The Gillian Reny Stepping Strong Center for Trauma Innovation at The Brigham and Women’s Hospital. The center was named after Gillian Reny who was critically injured in the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013.
The running team helps to raise money for the trauma center. In total, 143 runners are involved in the team. For Mel, being part of the team was a dream come true.
Mel hopes that her story of illness and triumph helps to inspire others dealing with similar challenges surrounding a rare diagnosis.
You can read more of Mel’s story here.