By Lisa Phelps, NORD Director of Marketing & Community Relations
With every New Year comes the resolve of individuals to better themselves in one or more ways. But after the ball has dropped and the confetti is swept away, it’s difficult for 75% of people to remain committed to their resolutions beyond the first week!
This year, consider a resolution to which you can remain committed: Resolve to better the lives (and chance at life) for 30 million individuals – not just one.
Rare Disease Day is only eight weeks after New Year’s Day, falling on February 28, 2015. On this one-of-a-kind day, communities around the world will gather together to raise awareness among the general public and decision-makers about the 7,000+ rare diseases and their impact on the lives of patients. Started by EURORDIS and brought to the US by NORD in 2009, this pivotal day has contributed to national plans and policies to better the lives of patients in over 80 countries.
The New Year’s Resolution: Become a Rare Disease Day Partner and join the 30 million Americans impacted by a rare disease to help patients, caregivers, and organizations working to advance the availability and delivery of information, research, education, treatment and care.
1. You Can Donate to support events and activities by patients and advocates
2. You Can Help Host a State House Event, or join one already in planning
3. You Can Share the Rare Disease Day Message with friends and decision-makers through social media, media/press, or in writing to your elected official
4. You Can Submit a Handprints Across America™ photo – using either your photo, or, if you’re feeling ambitious, find influential public figures to take a photo with the Handprints Across America™ handout! The most influential photo will be included in NORD’s 2015 media campaign with a story on the individual or group that submitted.
Let’s Achieve Our New Year’s Goals Together.
“Alone We Are Rare. Together We Are Strong.”™
As the holidays are in full swing, I cannot help but reflect upon the number of courageous families who are facing the most challenging times of their lives as they are impacted by rare diseases.
The Christmas season is a poignant one for me as I celebrate everything for which I am thankful and remember the fond memories of years past with my family. I also reflect upon the memory of my son, Trevor, who never had a chance at life as he was afflicted with a devastating rare disease called Metachromatic Leukodystrophy.
This neurological, progressive, degenerative disorder claimed his young life, robbing him of the simple pleasures we all enjoy: the ability to talk, walk, play ball, dance and simply grow up as we all should.
Every day, in my mind, I see his smiling face and behind him the silhouettes of 30 million Americans. Every day, I wake up and undertake my mission as parent advocate and the Director of Development of NORD.
If you have supported NORD with a donation at any time during its 31+ year history, we thank you. The wonderful work that NORD has accomplished since 1983 on behalf of rare disease patients and their families wouldn’t have been possible without the support of many caring individuals.
NORD works very hard to be a careful steward of donated funds, keeping operating costs low so that 95 cents of every dollar goes directly to programs and services for patients.
We know that you receive many solicitations for contributions at this time of year, but we believe that NORD has earned a place at the top of your list through its history of dedicated leadership and service.
And we are excited to tell you about two unique opportunities to drive progress for patients in 2015: promoting state-based advocacy through NORD’s Rare Action Network™ (RAN) and advancing research with an innovative new platform NORD has developed for patient registries and natural history studies. read more >
Before members of Congress pack up and go home for the holidays in December, there’s one important thing they need to do: Complete the reauthorization of the Newborn Screening Saves Lives Act.
At the start of this Congressional year, reauthorization of this very successful legislation appeared to be a slam-dunk. The value of the Newborn Screening Saves Lives Act has been well documented.
Both the House and Senate passed reauthorization bills with little fanfare. But now the legislation has become stalled in the Senate, and it is not at all certain that the impasse will be resolved before the end of this Congressional season.
To leave this critically important matter in limbo would be a disservice to all Americans … and, in particular, to the rare disease community.
The Monaco family’s story illustrates why newborn screening is important. In 2001, son Stephen went to bed one evening a lively and precocious toddler. By morning, he was in medical crisis, his life forever compromised by a “silent” disease that no one knew he had.
Stephen’s sister, Caroline, leads a normal, active life today as a result of newborn screening that made possible proactive measures to protect her. In addition to the tragic loss of Stephen’s ability to fulfill his early promise, this story also has an economic component. Stephen will need a lifetime of sophisticated medical care, whereas a major part of Caroline’s treatment is simply a modified diet.
On behalf of all the Stephens and Carolines in this world, NORD is inviting everyone to join us in letting Congress know that newborn screening is important to us. We have sent a letter to Congress signed by more than 70 organizations and rare disease medical experts.
In addition, our policy team has drafted an email that you can easily personalize and send to your Congressional representatives today. Please consider joining us in this important effort.
Vanessa Devore’s father, Octavio Armenta was never diagnosed, and neither was her grandfather. Hailing from Guadalajara, Mexico, she represents a legacy of fighters against an unknown disease, as the pioneer in her family who received the first diagnosis.
Eleven years ago, Vanessa moved to Chicago, Illinois. While pregnant with twins, she began to experience some unusual symptoms. “I started to feel weird,” Vanessa recalls. Her severe fatigue, indigestion, and hot and cold flashes couldn’t merely be attributed to her pregnancy. “Sometimes, I had to keep three blankets on the bed to wrap myself in, in case I had to get up in the middle of the night.” Many doctors took note of her symptoms, and diagnosed her with either anxiety or depression, prescribing the appropriate medications. “I knew that’s not what was going on,” says Vanessa. “It was frustrating, having so many doctors dismissing my symptoms as something that simple.”
Vanessa’s search for answers came to an end when she visited the Division of Endocrinology at Northwestern. A genetic test confirmed that she suffers from multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1 (MEN-1). It’s a hereditary disorder, characterized by one of 1,300 possible mutations of the MEN-1 gene, which is involved in the production of the protein menin. Menin is responsible for controlling the speed and regularity of cell division, so the absence or malformation of menin can cause tumor growth, often benign, and in the endocrine glands. These tumors can cause hormone irregularities, which can lead to a wide range of symptoms, which can sometimes be regulated. However, MEN-1 has no cure, and is considered a rare disorder, affecting about only 1 in 30,000. read more >
RareDisease Dialog is the official blog for the National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD). NORD’s staff and friends will share information of interest to the entire rare disease community.
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