Life threatening food allergies can be deadly. It's true. Indeed, it's a fact. Just in the last 24 hours, there has been news of yet another tragic food allergy related death. Thankfully, these tragedies make up a very small percentage of the individuals who live with food allergies. So why do so many food allergy advocates, bloggers,and groups have such a gloom and doom focus? Have you noticed it?
"Weren't feeling quite worried enough about possible cross-contamination? Well, look no further! We have a wide selection of new foods and places your allergens-to-avoid might be hiding!" When I read posts in various food allergy discussion groups, I often see sentiments almost like that! Sometimes it seems like there is almost a sort of glee in commiserating about how hard we--who manage food allergies--have it. That seems wrong, to me!
When I talk to friends who have fought cancer and gone into remission, they tell me how they coped. They didn't support each other by dwelling on how unfortunate they were or how difficult their lots in life were. In fact, most of my friends kept it mainly to themselves. In addition, they all have told me the way they got through it was by thinking "I am not going to let this stop me. I am going to fight this thing with every fiber of my being!" As you know, when cancer goes into remission, the cancer is not necessarily gone. You have to keep going back to be checked, and it can come back. There is no cure, but I see cancer survivors everywhere celebrating life. According to Allergy Home, there are roughly 20 food allergy related deaths in children per year. Allergic Child cites a 2007 study which states there were 31 anaphylaxis related deaths in one year. Any premature death is an unfortunate loss, and my heart goes out to those families. It is clear, however, from these statistics that death from food allergies is relatively rare! Why then aren't there more posts in food allergy groups celebrating life? Why aren't we celebrating our lives with food allergies? Shouldn't we celebrate what we accomplish or what our children accomplish despite food allergies?
I think one reason we don't see more people celebrating life with food allergies is that many feel helpless. I think many feel that the people and organizations we expect to look out for us, aren't: food manufacturers, some allergists, some pediatricians, the FDA, schools, fellow parents, etc. I think many feel almost like victims. Individuals with food allergies are not victims! Food allergies are manageable and while we cannot control everything, we can control quite a bit! People need to be equipped with more knowledge, so one of my 2016 writing goals is to focus on empowerment through knowledge.
We can help avert tragedy and other unfortunate food allergy related incidents by arming ourselves with knowledge. I hope to make Food Allergy Buzz an even better vehicle for sharing food allergy information and news, and promotion of food allergy awareness to the food allergy community. I hope to be an agent of positive change and not foster fear or sadness. While there is no cure yet, there are many treatments being researched and implemented around the world. We have a great deal for which to feel thankful. In addition, we need to remember--food allergies are manageable! They are not a death sentence. With the right information and vigilance, it is easy for almost all individuals with food allergies to live very full and productive lives. Your dietary restrictions should not--and I know I am nearly repeating Sloane Miller's words, but they are so fitting!--limit your ability to enjoy life! If they are, stick with me, and I will help introduce you to resources which can show you ways to enjoy the good things in life "allergen-free"*. That is, without the allergens that you need to avoid! In the meantime, take a look at some of my old posts. We've covered a lot of ground since 2008. And if you know of a great food allergy resource which you think others would appreciate, please share in a comment below or shoot me an email jennifer AT foodallergybuzz DOT com.
*I know there is no such thing as allergen-free! I mean free of your allergens-to-avoid!