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Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network College Scholarship Essay Contest
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Scholarship Summary
Amount $9,000
Award Type Scholarship
Application Deadline 1-Mar
Requirements Essay
Additional Info
Award Statistics
Number of awards granted each year 6
Important Information
Location of School United States
Residency U.S. citizen
Contact Info
Organization: Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network
City/State/Zip: - -

Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network College Scholarship Essay Contest - Add Review
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Reviewed By :    Date : 2016-01-10 10:45:46
Rating :
Eosinophilic Esophagitis, after being in the hospital for five days hearing the
doctors say this is something I had intensely confused me. I had never even
heard of this before. I checked into the hospital for my stomach, how could I
have an allergic reaction in my esophagus? Later to find out EOE can also cause
gastrointestinal problems, all my symptoms seemed to click. This has all
happened very recently and I am still trying to cope with what is happening. I
spent two years in agonizing pain constantly getting worse so in December when I
finally found an answer you could say I was more than relieved.
I started my journey in September of my junior year. I began having intense
stomach aches quite often. My mom thought it was just stress because I was
ramping up for my dream role in the Nutcracker. Well Nutcracker came and went
and Christmas vacation was over and the stomachaches had only gotten worse. Even
after being on vacation! It was clear they were not stress induced. By February
of the New Year I had lost twenty pounds and the foods and amounts I could eat
continued to diminish. People began to seriously worry. My mom took me to an
eating disorder facility. I was told that because I had straight A’s and was a
dancer I was definitely anorexic. Due to being an athlete my heart rate has
always been slow but they told me if was low because I had damaged my heart and
was getting close to killing myself. They told me I needed to drop out of school
and dance immediately and be checked in for six weeks. I was utterly devastated,
how could this be true? I had just got in to an amazing dance summer intensive
and if I were to stop dancing I would not be able to go. My mom and I decided to
just let that opinion rest and wait. Spring Break came and we decided to eat all
our favorite foods. I didn’t even make it three days before I was having
diarrhea and could not keep any food inside me. I was immediately taken to
Cedars Sinai. My doctor told me I was most definitely not anorexic and that it
was probably a parasite from visiting Costa Rica the spring break prior to all
of these problems. He put me of two very strong antibiotics that really put a
road bump on my life to say the least.
Being an OCD perfectionist and on medication that made me have constant
diarrhea not allowing me to go to dance or school killed me inside. On these
medications I got every side effect in the book, even the neurological ones. I
had to finish my junior year two weeks early and even misspelled my name. I was
so weak I could barely stand and I was not allowed to complete my audition for
my studios Nutcracker. I felt like my world was crashing around me! When I
thought things couldn’t get any worse my dream of attending the Ailey
School’s Summer Intensive in New York was disappearing. I was taken off my
antibiotics and I started getting stronger. I begged my parents to let me go to
New York and a week later I was on a plane. I had left home at 94 pounds. After
dancing all summer and sometimes running out of class to go to the bathroom, I
did not let my stomach issues run my life. I had the time of my life, fell in
love with the city, and found my dream college. After the intensive my stomach
was worse than ever. My throat started to itch and close when I ate and my ears
were constantly clogged. Thinking it was just allergies I lived on of Sudafed
all summer. When I returned home I was about 80 pounds. I went to City of Hope
soon after arriving home. The doctor there told me it was either from being out
of the country or celiac disease. After getting my blood tested for the genetic
marker he was convinced all my problems were because I was a celiac. I was put
on the FODMAP diet but after I started to lose more weight from the
restrictiveness I stopped it. I then had an endoscopy to confirm but the
biopsies came back negative. After that he kind of just gave up on me. Being
devastated and tired of going through all of this I did not know what to do with
myself. My senior year was about to start and I was so embarrassed by how I
looked. I was so skinny it was ugly. The depression had been the worst it ever
was before. I cried everyday. My studio casted me as Clara, Mirliton, Snow, and
Dew Drop and with me being so skinny they were not sure if I would be able to do
it. My dreams were slowly disappearing. I spent August- November trying to gain
weight and by the time Nutcracker came around I was 95 pounds! I had begun to
think things were getting better; I was sorely mistaken.
The day after Nutcracker ended I had woken up swollen like a balloon and
throughout that week I could not stay awake for more than an hour. I had a fever
every time I decided to eat or drink and was more than miserable. I was taken to
another doctor at Cedar’s and he decided to check me into the hospital. After
a week of blood tests, x-rays, CT scans, a colonoscopy, endoscopy, and a camera
pill I was finally given a diagnosis. I had Eosinophilic Esophagitis and SIBO.
The cause was unknown. I was then sent to my doctor’s wife who is an allergist
and immunologist. I was tested for allergies and found I was allergic to
peanuts. Peanuts!! Peanut butter and peanut m&m’s were two of my favorite
foods! How could I be allergic. It all began to click. Nutcracker week I lived
on peanut m&m’s and that would explain why I puffed up gaining 35 pounds
in a little under three weeks. I was then immediately put on a steroid slurry
for my throat, an antibiotic for my SIBO, and the elimination diet. This is
where I am today.
Although I often find myself wondering what I did in life to have this happen
to me, I know everything happens for a reason. I am so swollen and I find it
hard to dance. I have college auditions for the next two months and feel like I
have never danced a day in my life. I came back to school after winter break and
I feel as though I am drowning. Finals are next week and I have so much makeup
work. It is hard to feel anything less than depressed but I just keep trying to
push through the pain. Yes, this disease has wreaked havoc on my life but I
would not trade this experience. I know there is a lesson or a life path that
will shine through from all of this. I have found self-confidence and I know I
am stronger than ever! I look forward to navigating and figuring out how to
become a normal healthy person again. It is very hard not to feel like my body
has failed me but I tell myself to push through and maybe in the end I will get
rewarded. With perseverance and hope I will find a way to live again.

Reviewed By : Brooke Saccoccio    Date : 2009-02-02 18:22:57
Rating :
What comes to mind when the word “food” is mentioned? An average
teenager would recite a list consisting of greasy fast food, oily pizza, fried
chicken, a juicy burger, or some scrumptious cookie for dessert. If I were asked
the same question, my answer would not consist of anything yummy. No, I am not
on some Hollywood superstar diet. No one in his or her right mind would choose
to follow such a bland diet. But if you had my weak immune system, this would be
your reality.
Ever since childhood, or even infancy, I have had trouble with allergies and
gastrointestinal problems. In the fall of 2007, I was diagnosed with a rare
inflammatory condition called Eosinophilic Esophagitis (EE). This disease is
caused when white blood cells, eosinophils, are multiplied together, causing an
allergic reaction in the esophagus and intestine. These have caused me to become
allergic to the world, and this is no exaggeration. The major food groups of any
American teenager; chocolate, fast food, soda, pizza, cookies, are all
untouchable for me. My bland diet consists of amino acid-based medical formula,
meat, potatoes, organic rice, and a few other exceptions.
Avoiding my never-ending list of allergies seems demanding, but necessary to
stay away from, because of the damage and pain they cause for me. It makes them
no longer appetizing, or an option, unless I want to be sick all day. Keeping
these foods out of my system also keeps severe heartburn, vomiting,
irritability, difficulty swallowing, nausea, diarrhea and even food impaction of
the esophagus away. When friends ask me why I’m eating cardboard, I tell
them, and they say, “Oh, that’s rough” or, “How
unfair!” I do not want people to feel badly for me. I may be sick day to
day, but I have learned to live with these conditions. Though I may struggle
every day medically, I still find a way to smile and gracefully get through my
This summer, I was fortunate to attend a highly accredited clinic for EE in the
United States. Cincinnati Children’s Hospital in Ohio was able to give me
a stronger understanding of my condition, and a better outlook on life. I was
able to meet with many children with Eosinophilic Esophagitis, which allowed me
to become aware of life outside of EE. One sweet four year old in particular,
told me that her favorite food was “the juice box formula.” This was
the only food she knew, because of her severe EE symptoms. Even with the little
eating she did, this child was optimistic. This young girl made me realize I was
not the only one with an empty plate all the time, and certainly not the only
one with a positive outlook. If this tiny ray of sunshine could live on formula
and continue to be so positive, how couldn’t I try to live up to the same
combative spirit?
Keeping the image of the diminutive girl’s smile in my mind, I turned my
focus on the positive side of my situation. Rather then fretting over my empty
dinner plate, I focus on more important aspects of my life. Attempting to reach
my goal of becoming a nurse, I knew that the last few years of high school were
paramount. I had to overcome my day-to-day battle. Even though getting up each
morning for school is a struggle, I deal with my pain and drag myself to school.
Sitting in a classroom is uncomfortable when you have gastrointestinal issues,
but I have learned to deal with it. Some days I have to go to the nurse three
times during a class to go to the bathroom. It’s so embarrassing! But I
know it’s more imperative for me to stay in school and try my best than
to dwell over the pain I feel. The more days I stay in school, the closer I get
to become the caring nurse I wish to be. I can’t wait to be able to
become a pediatric nurse to assist young children like the girl I met at
Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. I want to be there for children who have
issues similar to mine. It would make me so happy to be able to be the ray of
sunshine in someone else’s life as that little girl was in mine.

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