A Hero Among Us
When Stevens Johnson syndrome hit 22 year-old Jeriann Peabody in October 2011, it hit her hard. By the time she left the hospital, her eyes were severely light sensitive and she was in constant pain, making returning to work and college impossible. And she was one of the lucky ones.
Less than eight weeks later she had an appointment with Dr. James Chodosh, a cornea specialist at Mass Eye and Ear, who referred Jeriann to see Dr. Lynette Johns. But like many survivors, while her pain subsided and her vision improved with PROSE, she struggled with other long term effects of SJS. So she turned her attention to finding out everything she could about the disease and what it was doing to her body.
Her research soon brought her to the SJS Foundation website and a support group on Facebook, both run by Jean McCawley. Jeriann quickly became active in the virtual SJS community, asking questions of other survivors and sharing her own experiences. She also connected with SJS Kids Support, a community started by 20 year-old Julie, Jean’s daughter and a longtime BFS patient. The fact that Julie “had made a website and videos to help other kids with SJS was amazing. She and Jean are the ones that made me think about helping out others and that I had something that I could give back. They inspired me,” said Jeriann.
Jeriann’s friends, with her through every step of her ordeal and recovery, also wanted to help. So when they saw a post on BFS’s Facebook page asking for support for the SJS Kids Week Travel Fund, they knew they had found their cause: “I got financial assistance from BFS for PROSE treatment and I wanted to do something for other patients because they were helping me so much.”
Homemade poster in hand, they asked a friend down the street if they could stand in front of her store for a few weekends. “Some people didn’t get it — some were even rude. But some were very interested and wanted to learn about my experience. One person had a daughter who had SJS too. It turned out well — we were able to increase awareness in our own community and raise $440 for the Travel Fund!”
"It's not just about the money. It is about raising awareness. If people knew more about SJS they would be more understanding about what it is like to go through it. They might also get help sooner.”
In late July, Jeriann, her best friend Rose and her sister Amy (pictured) arrived for SJS Kids Week. Over the next seven days they shared their hopes and fears in therapeutic groups, went on field trips, and stayed up late into the night talking and laughing with new friends.
“I have to say that it was the best week I have ever had. These girls are amazing and true fighters and I learned so much! I loved meeting all the people who have been through SJS — not just the kids but the families as well. I am so thankful to all the friends, family and supporters that I have met on and even before this journey. I couldn’t have made it this far without any of them.”
Jeriann and her friends, determined to give back, in turn helped make the journey possible for others as well.
Thank you Jeriann — you are a true hero among us.