Wednesday, February 26, 2014

WAGR Wednesday~Why Care that We are Rare?

This week, for WAGR Wednesday, I thought I’d highlight the fact that Rare Disease Day 2014 is this Friday, February 28th.  But what does that mean?  Why is Rare Disease Day important? 

Prior to having a daughter with a rare disease, I probably would have asked the same question.  I would look around at all the diseases that exist, (just talking about the different types of cancer can boggle the mind), and I would think, Why is RARE disease so important that we have to take a day aside to recognize it?”

It’s more than the fact that for the first few years of Evie’s life, whenever we had to run to Urgent Care or the ER where the doctors didn’t know her, I often felt like the side show at a circus: 

Step inside and see the girl with no irises!
Can you believe it folks?  She’s shows no facial expression because she can’t smile due to the neuropathy from her chemotherapy! 
Look at this, Ladies and Gentlemen; she has a temperature of 97.1 degrees Fahrenheit AND has a raging case of pneumonia!

It’s more than the fact that we had to wait for months to get her approved for Medicaid because they had to research WAGR Syndrome before approving her; AND we had to go through a court of appeals AND have Disability Rights Wisconsin argue on her behalf to get her into a county assistance program, because it’s hard to prove certain things when there is little documentation regarding the extent of the “effects” of WAGR.  

The importance of Rare Disease Day extends far beyond those reasons.   

Rare Disease Day is important because there is very little money invested in the research of, and treatment of rare disease.  Big pharmaceutical companies aren’t non-profit businesses; so why would they think it’s important to create a medication for a small population of people worldwide?  It’s also hard to convince the doctor, who needs some publications under his or her belt, to spend time researching a disease that would be difficult to recruit participants for, would be costly, and would not likely lead to mind-blowing revelations regarding the general human race. 

Rare Disease Day is important because ALL of the rare diseases combined become a unified voice of clarity.  

We ARE important.
We CAN make an impact.
We DO matter to the general population, because the RARE genes that make up RARE disease hold the secret answers to the medical questions which have baffled scientists and doctors for ages. 

For example, the research on WAGR/11p Deletion Syndrome that has been taking place at the NIH has already yielded amazing results like identifying and reinforcing the knowledge of the correlation between obesity and the deletion of the BDNF gene (accessible at:  
The research has also shown that many people with WAGR/11p Deletion are missing, or have an under-developed pineal gland, which produces hormones that help regulate sleep.  Knowing that there may be a decreased release of melatonin (one of the functions of the pineal gland) in persons with WAGR/11p Deletion, and that oral melatonin supplements can help them sleep is critical in enhancing their lives.  After all, chronic sleep deprivation isn’t fun for ANYONE!

So, to help show law-makers, researchers, and large pharma companies that rare disease IS important and serves a larger population than they seem to believe, we celebrate Rare Disease Day.  To help our communities, friends and relatives understand that; yes, we have valid struggles, and yes, we have justified hope…we celebrate Rare Disease Day.  To help our rare families around the world feel connected to others; to say, “You are not alone,” we celebrate Rare Disease Day.

Finally, to help me live out MY passion; which is making a difference in this world~to this world; to show the world that BEAUTY can be born from HEARTACHE

...I will CELEBRATE Rare Disease Day…

Will you?



Biggest Little City in the World,      Blackjack dealers, Wild Horse wranglers,      A thoroughfare to Burning Man and Nation's A...