Wyoming Sarcoidosis Ambassador Raises Awareness in Sweetwater County

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ROCK SPRINGS — Rock Springs residents can expect to see the town lit up in purple on August 13. The soothing color will signify the recognition of sarcoidosis — an inflammatory disease which has no cause or cure for those diagnosed. Rock Springs Mayor Timothy Kaumo declared April as Sarcoidosis Awareness Month during a city council meeting on April 2.

The disease forms clumps of inflammatory cells in one or more organs in the body which can cause many problems in terms of function and structure of organs.

According to the official sarcoidosis website, “Disease presentation and severity varies widely among patients. In some cases, the disease goes away on its own. In others, the disease may not progress clinically but individuals will still suffer from some symptoms that challenge their quality of life. The rest of patients—up to a third of people diagnosed with the disease—will require long-term treatment. Sarcoidosis is considered chronic in people whose disease remains active for more than 2-5 years; in this population sarcoidosis can be debilitating and life-threatening.”

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Five years ago Jennifer Cash, a resident of Frannie, Wyoming, was diagnosed with sarcoidosis. What started out as confusion and frustration has now provided Cash with a new life mission. This February, Cash was asked to be one of the Wyoming ambassadors for sarcoidosis.

With no known cause or cure, Cash emphasized that there are many in Wyoming who unknowingly have sarcoidosis and are in desperate need of help.

“Anyone who gets diagnosed with this disease needs help. They need somebody who’s been in it and who knows what’s going on,” Cash said.

The biggest challenge facing sarcoidosis is the process of being diagnosed. According to Cash, the toughest part of her diagnosis was finding someone to talk to. In Wyoming there are currently no sarcoidosis specialists. Neighboring states such as Utah or Colorado are the closest locations to Wyoming with doctors who can help those in need. One other challenge with diagnosis is that it has to be diagnosed through biopsy.

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Between battling the disease and spending time with her granddaughter, Cash’s mission is to inform all of Wyoming about sarcoidosis and help those who don’t know where to go or what to do.

“Honestly, you start to feel like you’re forgotten and alone,” Cash said. “My goal in this is to give anybody who has been diagnosed somebody to talk to. They need it.”

Since her visit to Rock Springs, Cash has been contacted by a handful of individuals within Sweetwater County who have some type of connection to sarcoidosis. Among her best advice concerning sarcoidosis: be true to yourself.

“Always be true to yourself. If you know something is wrong, listen to yourself. If a doctor tells you that your tests came back fine and there is nothing wrong, keep going until someone listens to you,” Cash said.

“You learn to live for the small moments,” Cash said. “You learn to give yourself small goals. If I can ride seven and a half hours to come and tell someone about this disease, I’ve done my job.”

A nationwide light up day scheduled for April 13 will take place this month. Purple will sweep the nation including iconic places like the 9/11 memorial and Niagara Falls.

For those seeking more information concerning sarcoidosis, visit stopsarcoidosis.org or contact Jennifer Cash at 307-271-2326 or by email ambassadorjennifer@stopsarcoidosis.org.