Image of an EpiPen

Here’s What You Should Know If You Are Struggling to Afford Your EpiPen

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Several weeks ago I went to fill a prescription for an injectable medication that requires the use of an auto-injector. While it’s not an EpiPen, it’s similar in that the prescription is delivered through a pen-like device. It’s also similar in that the price doesn’t seem to make much sense. With insurance, the medication costs $15. The plastic pen to inject the medication? $180.

While the medication I take greatly improves my quality of life, not filling my prescription isn’t as life-threatening as not getting epinephrine is to a person with severe allergies. So I took the medication cartridges and set out to find a cheaper delivery device.

In the time I spent searching for an auto-injector alternative, the news of EpiPen’s massive price increases broke. Since 2007, EpiPen’s wholesale pricing went from $56.64 to $317.82, a 461 percent increase. As a consumer, the prices you are going to pay are much higher – with some paying upwards of $600 for a two-pack (the only way the drug can be sold).

Update: On Thursday, August 25, Mylan, the pharmaceutical company that makes EpiPens, announced it is offering a copay assistance program that will take $300 off of the price consumers pay for EpiPens. Mylan is also making it easier to qualify for its patient assistance program which provides free EpiPens to under-insured or uninsured families. 

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“We’re seeing a lot of [people struggling to afford their EpiPens] because of high-deductible [insurance] plans or patients being inadequately insured,” said Sakina Bajowala, M.D, a board-certified physician in pediatrics and allergy and immunology practicing in North Aurora, Illinois. “The root cause of this is that Mylan has made the poor decision to jack up prices by hundreds of percents over the last few years.”

“I think it’s a shame. Patients are struggling with this and doctors are too,” said Jennifer Caudle, D.O., Family Physician and Assistant Professor at Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine. “The first thing I thought was ‘Oh my gosh.’ This isn’t Tylenol. This is a life-saving medication. People die every year from anaphylactic shock.”

According to Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE), up to 15 million Americans have food allergies, including one in 13 children under the age of 18. Anaphylaxis is a severe, life-threatening allergic reaction that causes over 300,000 pediatric visits to the emergency room each year. When the signs of anaphylaxis – difficulty breathing, hives, dizziness – occur, timely delivery of epinephrine, the medication in an EpiPen, can be the difference between life and death.

“The times where we need this medicine are usually an emergency. If you are thinking of using it, it’s probably an emergency,” Caudle said. “In a situation that’s potentially life-threatening they are great to use. If someone is not breathing or can’t cope it’s great to have something you can easily use.”

For Those Struggling to Afford an EpiPen

For those who want an EpiPen specifically but can’t afford them at their current prices, coupons do exist. There are coupons marketed as zero co-pay coupons, Bajowala said. “However, in reality for many patients, especially ones with high-deductible plans, their co-pay does not end up being zero,” she added. “It simply takes $100 off the out-of-pocket price of the EpiPen two-pack after insurance pays.” For example, if your bill after insurance is $300, you would now owe $200 for each two-pack you purchase.

“For many of my patients, even after the coupon kicks in they still have an out-of-pocket expense of over $400 for each two-pack that they need,” Bajowala explained. “For children, this is especially problematic because they don’t just need one two-pack. They need one two-pack at home, one two-pack at school, they need another two-pack at daycare, another set at grandma’s or a babysitter’s house – and it adds up if you are spending $400 or $500 a pack.”

Mylan, the pharmaceutical company that makes EpiPens, also offers a program which provides low-cost or free EpiPens to people who don’t have insurance. While this can help uninsured patients, it leaves patients who don’t have the best insurance coverage in the lurch, Bajowala explained: “They don’t qualify for the uninsured program, but they don’t have enough insurance coverage to save their wallet from major damage when they do go to the pharmacy.”

“Families simply cannot afford to spend that much money on a medication [when] the expiration date is only a year and they have to replace it every year,” she said. “It’s a very, very expensive insurance policy when they are already spending a lot of money to have health insurance coverage.”

Alternatives to Using an EpiPen

There are other alternatives to using an EpiPen. “When patients have these issues, I offer them a few options,” Bajowala said. One of those options is Adrenaclick, an auto-injector pen that delivers epinephrine, and has generic alternatives. “The only downside is that it does leave an exposed needle when you are finished with the injection, so you have to be a little more careful when pulling out,” Bajowala said. “But the cost difference for some patients can be substantial, saving them hundreds of dollars on the prescription.”

The other option is to use a syringe and draw the epinephrine out of the vial, said Caudle. “One of the things about using a syringe is that there are many more steps,” Caudle explained. “There are two pieces of equipment. You need to use alcohol to wipe off the vial first. There’s a lot more room for error.”

“Epinephrine is not an expensive drug,” Bajowala told The Mighty. “In fact, it’s a very inexpensive drug.” The New York Times reports that 1 milliliter of epinephrine costs less than a dollar in the developing world, and that less than a third of a that goes into an EpiPen. “The cost is coming into the development on the device and marketing of the device,” Bajowala said. “Most of their expense has been marketing rather than really investing in the device itself, because the device really has not changed much over the last few years.”

Syringes, unlike EpiPens, are not expensive. In many states, you can get 1-milliliter insulin syringes without a prescription. Upon learning this was an option, I went to a local pharmacy in New York City, and bought 10 syringes for $5 without a prescription – thus solving my $180 auto-injector problem.

For those interested in using syringes to deliver epinephrine, there are other factors to consider beyond the price of epinephrine and syringes. Studies have shown it takes patients longer to draw-up the appropriate amount of epinephrine and deliver it, Bajowala said. “Parents took approximately 142 seconds to draw-up the appropriate dose of epinephrine. For physicians it was 52 seconds, for general nurses it was 40 seconds, and for emergency department nurses it was 29 seconds.”

Bajowala also advises against drawing up the medication in a syringe ahead of time. “That’s also been researched and unfortunately epinephrine is very susceptible to the effects of visible light on the stability of the medication,” she said. “For it to maintain its effectiveness, it needs to be protected from light and heat. Therefore, drawing it up in advance could potentially degrade the effectiveness of epinephrine.”

“Talk with your doctor first,” Caudle advises. “There are some patients I wouldn’t recommend this for. What I would say is, ‘You really need to talk to your doctor to see what options they have available. As a doctor, I would need to figure out, is the syringe and vial a reasonable option for this patient given their age and type of allergy?”

If you are thinking of using your expired EpiPen, think again. Both Bajowala and Caudle advise against using expired medication. However, if using an expired EpiPen is the only option you have available, it most likely won’t hurt you – but it may not help you either. “We can’t advise our patients to administer expired epinephrine as a first line because there is no guarantee of the stability of the medication in that device.” If the epinephrine in your EpiPen looks discolored or has precipitation, throw it out, Bajowala advised.

“At the end of the day, we need to not have a monopoly in the marketplace,” Bajowala said. “The FDA is going to need to fast-track approval of alternatives for the EpiPen device so there is competition in the marketplace and the price can be driven down to more affordable levels. Having a monopoly in this area has encouraged greed. We need to have more options available and more safe options available.”

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The Major Problem With That 'Keeping Up With the Kardashians' Food Allergies Episode

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I can’t keep quiet about this. Nor should anyone else in the food allergy community. Action could and will save lives. It’s that serious.

I was watching an episode of “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” with my 10-year-old son. In it, Scott questions Kourtney’s claim that she is allergic to foods such as gluten and milk. His point is valid: she shouldn’t use the term “allergy” if she doesn’t have one. He is lactose intolerant, which he states during the episode, and is frustrated by her flip-flopping allergic status. He understands the severity of food allergies and intolerances, and wants her to stop saying she is allergic when she is not.

Sounds good, right?

Only, he tries to “prove” her wrong — which, if she was really allergic, could kill her.

During the episode, Scott switches out her substitute foods with the real deal. He empties out her dairy-free milk and substitutes it with real milk without telling her. The same with other foods.

I cannot emphasize enough how outrageously dangerous this action is, not only potentially for her (as we don’t know if she truly has an allergy at this point in the show), but for all people in the allergy community, particularly children.

There is complete and total misunderstanding of our community and the severity of life-threatening food allergies. My son is anaphylactic to certain foods, as are other members of my family, including myself. He was horrified watching this. If someone wanted to “test” our allergies, it would kill us. Kill us. Potentially within minutes.

My fear is these actions could be copied. Kids and adults are already bullied and tested on a regular basis without a major TV show advocating for this type of behavior. It’s totally unacceptable. While Scott’s point was valid, airing his actions to prove Kourtney wrong was wrong of epic proportions.

The episode continues, and Kourtney fakes illness from eating the switched foods.  Then she laughs about not being sick with her mother, Kris, while Scott is verbally and visually upset about it. He tries to convey the seriousness of allergies and that her elimination of certain foods is a choice, not an effort to keep herself alive due to an allergy. In his attempt to prove an important and potentially life-saving point, Kourtney concedes to using different language, but calls it “ridiculous” in the process.

The stigma surrounding food allergies and intolerances is everywhere and hard to fight when you are in this community and trying to stay alive every day. We never know if a food has accidental contamination or cross contamination that isn’t labeled. We never know if we could potentially die from eating. Die from eating.

And, for those thinking: “Just use an Epi-Pen like on TV,” they are not a guarantee.  People die each year after using epinephrine. You can never, ever be too safe.

As a family affected by the stigma surrounding our life-threatening allergies, we are begging “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” to create a public service announcement at the end of this episode discussing the seriousness and life-threatening implications of the actions and attitudes within it.

As a family who has experience bullying due to our life-threatening allergies, we are begging the public to use common sense and never try to test someone’s allergies.

We are begging people to become our allies and help us end the stigma and bullying that prevails.

This issue is real.

The potential for death is real.

I can’t sit idle to this issue out of my instinct to protect my children and myself from misunderstanding.

While we applaud Scott for starting a discussion about life-threatening allergies and food intolerances, we have to speak up about the methods used. We have to use our voices to keep this discussion going.

We want people to live with food allergies and intolerances in a properly educated world that supports us.

We need your help to do it.

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5 Ways to Support a Family With a Sick Child

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Our child has food protein-induced enterocolitis syndrome (FPIES), a severe allergy of the gut. His daily needs affect our daily life in massive ways. The process of Brighton’s diagnosis was one of the hardest times of our lives. We spent many draining hours at the doctor’s office and hospital which turned our life upside down.

Looking back on that difficult time, I feel like we learned a lot about how to support others in similar situations. I realize every situation and person is different, so what was helpful and comforting to us may not be to others. Here’s a list of things we found to be helpful when we were dealing with the unknowns, tests, procedures and endless doctor appointments.

1. Choose your words wisely. This is difficult to do, but made the world of difference for us. Everyone always has the best of intentions, but that may not come across to a tired, drained parent. Never say, “I know what you are going through” or “I’ve been there before,” because the reality is, you don’t and you haven’t. Even if your child has the exact same disease, your life is different. Your situation is different. Your child is different.

Never say, “Oh, it’s probably nothing,” “It will get better,” or “He’ll be fine and outgrow it.” These words are not comforting in those difficult moments. The truth is, it isn’t nothing. If there is a team of doctors at the children’s hospital running test after test on our infant, there is something. And yes, we pray Brighton will outgrow FPIES, but in the meantime, this is our life and it isn’t easy.

Honestly, the words that would help the most were when people said, “I’m sorry; that really sucks,” and “We are praying for Brighton and your family.” For some reason, it made me feel comforted when people acknowledged how much it just sucked.

Even though they weren’t in our shoes, they were acknowledging it wasn’t easy. They weren’t acting like nothing was wrong. They weren’t acting like they knew what we were going through, and they weren’t acting like they had our child figured out. They were acknowledging we were going through a rough time and that made us feel supported. The last thing someone with a sick child needs is to spend time talking to someone that is going to make them more frustrated, sad and exhausted.

So even though you have the best of intentions, choose your words carefully. It makes a difference.

2. Call. Text. Write an email. Send a letter. Be present. Some people wouldn’t call or text. They knew what we were going through, but they never acknowledged it. Mostly because they didn’t want to bother us or they didn’t know what to say. I get that. And I appreciate that. However, it can be hurtful when family and close friends just disregard the situation. If you are calling at a bad time, that person won’t answer. If you text at a bad time, they will text you later.

Be present in their life.

Ask them how they are doing, how their child is doing, and how the other kids are dealing with it.

Or just listen.

It would help me to talk to someone that would just listen. Sometimes these parents need to vent. They don’t need you to say much, they just need to you to listen and to love on them. Other times they don’t want to say anything. They haven’t fully digested the situation, but they still want to know they have people there to support them. Let them know you are thinking and praying for their baby. And don’t be offended if they do not answer or respond right away, or if they never respond. Understand they have a lot going on, but know that reaching out to them and supporting them means so much.

3. Be helpful. This is a tough one, because everyone appreciates help in different forms. Try to talk to that person about what would be most helpful, but give them options. Don’t just say “let us know what we can do or when we can help” because honestly, that person will never ask for help. Give them a few options and tell them you are going to help no matter what, so they need to pick what’s best from these options. They need the help whether they say it or not.

Some helpful ideas would be to bring a meal, drop off groceries, wash their floors, watch their kids so they can have a night out, or watch their other kids when they have a big doctor’s appointment, so they can fully focus on the appointment. Love on their children. These kids are feeling the stresses of what is going on. The biggest blessing to me was not only when a friend took my kids during the doctor appointments, but knowing my kids were being loved on and having a fun time while I was at the doctor.

There are also helpful things you can do without coordinating with that family. When we went through everything with Brighton, it was fall, and the beautiful leaves were all over our yard. I remember thinking how badly I wished a magic fairy would come and rake our leaves.

If you see their plants need watering, go water them. If their yard hasn’t been mowed in weeks, mow it. If their yard is full with leaves, rake it. If their gutters are full, clean them. If their driveway and sidewalks are covered in snow, shovel them.

You get the point. Just show up.

You don’t need to knock on the door or bother anyone — just be a blessing by doing the tedious yard work. Better yet, do it when you know they won’t be home. It truly will mean the world to them when they come home and see there’s one less thing they have to do that week.

If you live out of town and have the means, send a gift card. A gas card, since the amount of money spent on gas to appointments is costly! A $5 Starbucks card. A care package. If you don’t have time, quickly order some snacks off Amazon (you’d be amazed how difficult it is for these families to get to the grocery store). If you don’t have a lot of money, send a card to let them know you are thinking of them. Little things go a long way and having a community of supporters makes a world of a difference.

4. Show up and support the cause. We were very blessed to have amazing insurance during this period of life, so the cost of hospital and doctor bills were not a stress for us. I cannot imagine having the stress of the added cost of every appointment. All the tests, appointments with specialty doctors, procedures, treatments and surgeries add up. Some families have fundraisers online or in person. Show up to them. Give to them. Even if you only give five dollars, it will help them.

5. Pray for them. There is only so much that doctors can do and the rest isn’t up to us. God has done amazing things. Pray for those children and those families. It is the single most important and easiest thing you can do to help.

What about you?  What would you add to this list?

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The Sage Project Wants to Make Food Shopping Easier for People With Allergies and Sensitivities

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Imagine if you could go to the supermarket already knowing which products were allergen-free without having to read all of the labels once you got there. Thanks to the Sage Project, this idea no longer has to be a fantasy for those with food sensitivities or allergies.

The Sage Project is a website created by designers, dietitians, and creative technologists to make nutritional information and food labels more accessible to the average person. “We created the Sage Project out of our own personal frustration with food data and food labeling,” Sam Slover, Sage Project’s co-founder and chief executive, told The Mighty. “All too often, we find food data to be a black hole: it’s confusing, generic, and people are not really empowered to make better decisions based on it.”

Through a comprehensive evaluation of your lifestyle, allergens, and dietary preferences, Sage’s web-based platform takes all of the guesswork out of finding products that work best for you or your family. It can be accessed through the internet browser on your phone or laptop. “The entire platform is based around the concept of personalization,” Slover said. “We get to know a bit about you, and then help you find products that are right for you – and avoid products that are not right for you.”

Types of diets

If you have an allergy or sensitivity, Sage will remove any food items with that allergen from your list of products. If you venture off your list and look at a product that contains items you cannot eat, Sage will flag the item – letting you know it disagrees with your dietary needs. The platform covers 16 allergens, as opposed to the eight the FDA mandates be clearly marked on labels. You can also customize your profile to show you foods that follow a certain diet like paleo, vegetarian, raw or vegan.

product-visualization-badges-2

Sage’s website is easy to use and well designed. In addition to its focus on dietary restrictions, Sage can tell you how much exercise it takes to burn off a serving size, where your food was shipped from, and detailed explanations of the ingredients in your food you may not be able to pronounce. The platform also gives badges to foods, which highlight facts about items that might not otherwise be apparent on standard food labels. Badges include “great nutrition for price,” “contains probiotics,” “no added sugars,” and “no artificial colors or flavors.”

Visualization showing how much exercise is needed to burn off a serving size

Currently, Sage only supports food products that can be found at Whole Foods, although many of these items can be found at other supermarkets as well. According to Slover, the company is working on expanding to additional supermarkets and broader, more-conventional products.

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I'm Not Lying About My Food Allergies to Make Your Job Harder

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I want to preface this with as sincere a love note as possible to all the under-appreciated hard workers within the food service industry: I am sorry. I am sorry the self-defense barriers you have spent years building need be so readily deployed. I spent four years living the ins and outs of the culture of a restaurant where I worked, saw the mistreatment, felt the mistreatment, watched the mistreatment creep and whistle and follow each of you home. I am sorry that customers can so often prioritize the pink gradient of their steak or the timeliness of their drink order over their basic treatment of another human being.

As someone who has tried my best to carve an entire self out of a philosophy never to make the burden of someone’s job heavier, I am a huge advocate of the voices of food service industry workers. For as long as I can remember, I complacently ate ingredients I hadn’t ordered and didn’t care for. I overtipped servers regardless of their performance. I witnessed the snapping, disrespectful customer and vowed never to be anyone anywhere near that.

But then my health failed. Then my body changed. Then suddenly I was forced to confront the realities of an autoimmune disorder that diluted the wonderful world of cuisine and social outings into kale and medication and the overwhelming fear of leaving my own kitchen ever again.

I painstakingly shifted each and every one of my lifestyle habits to better facilitate my body’s healing. I went to a specialist every week. I became a flurry of supplements, vitamins, medications, injections, biopsies, etc. I arranged my workload and social life around my sleeping and cooking necessities. I avoided celebrating as many holidays as possible. At 23 years old, I was already very much confronted with the reality of never eating birthday cake and never drinking alcohol again. On top of all this regimen, I was still very much feeling like crap. I avoided friends, feelings, events, and most notably, I avoided restaurants given the newly heavy guilt/fear combo meal that came along with them.

This fear, however, was immediately and consistently met with affirmation. Though I tried my hardest to blanket every complicated order with hefty apology and niceties, even my smallest requests were most often met with notable tonal shifts, eye rolls and sometimes even outright refusal. I thought if I could just explain, just push the big, red “allergy” emergency exit button on their patience, all would be well and I could go back to the guiltless ease and enjoyment of whatever date/holiday/interview/lunch break/etc. I was there for.

But I knew the category I had been tossed in from the moment I saw each server’s face. Even if they were extremely, externally supportive, even if they painlessly took back and swapped out and read labels and made exceptions and mixed recipes with grace and professionalism, I was unavoidably, perpetually one type of customer in the summation of their workday: difficult. This very fact alone, regardless of the treatment that sprung from it, was enough to bring me to tears.

Out of all the things my illness had stripped me of, this inability to be who I wanted to be, was the hardest robbery to face. I could avoid ingredients that gave me hives, fevers, panic attacks, insomnia, nausea, you name it, but I could not avoid the prospect of being instantly hated. At the end of the day, however, if I wanted to re-acclimate and stop hiding and stay healthy, I had to confront it head-on.

What shocked me most, beyond just the basic dismay of receiving eye roll after eye roll for disclosing a health condition for necessity’s sake, was the amount of times it was blatantly ignored and I got sick as a consequence. My view from the other side has shown me just exactly why this happens: servers most often think I’m lying. They run the numbers and calculate the probabilities in their head, become a magical allergy whisperer on the spot, and then deduce whether or not they deem me worthy of real medical history. I have seen this time and time again in their response and all across the internet. I am either a liar who is just following whatever dieting trend arises at the time, or I am a lawsuit waiting to happen. And I see where that perspective comes from, have witnessed the character from the other side, the one moaning about the smallest detail and making life hell. But you do not see beyond what you are willing to see.

You do not throw basic human respect out the window just because you have a hunch that her hardship is not real. Little do you actually know, I am a terrified 20-something who had just started to feel OK about myself and my ability to get by, when an illness came from left field and smacked me in the face. Made me stay home from every conceivable social event and barely be able to wake up for work some days (today). I am not looking for someone to pity me. I cook my own meals three times a day, I enjoy what I have been able to scrape together from the nothing that I have access to. I find ways to still enjoy dancing and parties and the repeated speech I have to give to any stranger who happens to be around me when I eat. My life is not a tragedy, and I don’t pretend to deserve anything more than what you and all the others around me deserve. But as I sit here, erroneously trapped within a black hole of mean online comments in which another girl with allergies has been told to just “drink bleach instead,”  I find myself incapable of grasping all I have lost.

This is not about self-importance. This is not about some warped idea of privilege. This is illness. Whatever you think you know, even if you think I am a practical joke or your comic book nemesis sent in to destroy your life as you know it in the form of ordering sauce on the side, when someone tells you they have a food allergy and you do not take every possible precaution to accommodate that, you are putting another person’s life and wellbeing at risk. You are basically telling them you’d rather be right in your misconceptions than ensure they stay alive and well. That is about as serious as serious gets. When the consequences of your gut feeling being wrong are potentially fatal, everyone should be 100 percent listened to. Every time.

Here is the thing: I respect you. I hope the respect of others finds you and wraps around you and leaves you nothing short of whole. But if you return that same respect, I shouldn’t have to apologize for how difficult my chronic illness might make things for you.

Forget birthday cake and holiday get-togethers, forget interviews at coffee shops or drinks with friends. Erase the ease of midday hunger and the ways someone else can fill it. These are things I can handle. These are sadnesses I can take. But give me back the smiling waiter, genuine and informed, and the ways I once felt bound by compassion. Give me back the ways my own sadness did not automatically make me a “horrible liar,”  a conniving fraud. Give me back the restaurant, and a bathroom in which I do not cry, and a booth in which I do not feel horrible. Whorl the buzzing diner lights around me and understand: I am just trying to get by, too.

Lead photo source: Thinkstock Images

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What I Want You to Teach Your Children About People With Food Allergies

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I lie here, weeks before major surgery, worried what would happen to my kids if something goes terribly wrong. My husband is wonderful and quite capable, but they need their Mama, their food allergy warrior. I have trouble drifting off to sleep. I dream of a good outcome. I dream of hugging my children after surgery, letting them know everything will be OK.

My kids both have life-threatening food allergies. I don’t just worry about the normal things parents worry about. I worry every single time they eat or drink something. That’s every single day. Every single bite. Every single sip.

It’s an endless amount of fear and anxiety that you face, an endless fight to figure out how to keep them safe. A fight, like many others, that you cannot possibly understand unless you’re going through it yourself.

I also have food allergies, as does my husband, but we never took them seriously until our precious children got them. You learn to adapt and educate yourself very quickly when your children’s lives are at stake. 

You’re surprised to learn that only a very small amount of their allergen can kill them. 

Now let that sink in.

A few tiny particles of food can kill your child.

How would you feel if you got this news?

It is a daily battle of preparing many homemade foods, reading labels, calling food companies to verify whether or not cross-contamination exists in their factories, making sure your kids are included and safe and protecting them from bullies (adult and child) they may encounter in person or online.

It’s a battle I wish we didn’t have to face. It’s a battle I wish none of you had to face. But the reality is that many of you will someday. One in 13 children currently have food allergies, according to Food Allergy Research & Education. It’s something we all need to participate in and be prepared for.

Even with the prevalence of food allergies, many still don’t understand the dangers involved or don’t even care to try to.

Because it doesn’t affect them.

Many still view food allergies as something that’s OK to make jokes about. They ridicule those afflicted or even bully children or the parents of kids who suffer. Food allergies affect a person’s ability to eat, drink, breathe, thrive and survive. It’s not something to joke about.

I worry about the struggles my children will face trying to stay alive every single day when there are so many things that could harm them. Everyday things such as food, drinks, lotions, shampoos, peanuts or other allergens on airplanes, events, parties and even dental visits could wind up becoming life-threatening due to certain hidden ingredients.

I haven’t had enough time to educate my young children on how to stay safe. As I prepare to have surgery, I pray I will get more time to continue that education. I pray I will be able to supply them with enough knowledge to lead healthy, productive and happy lives.

I also hope anyone reading this will try to put themselves in my shoes. What would you do to keep your children safe? I believe the answer would be — anything! 

So please understand that food allergies are real, serious and life-threatening. Food allergy families are only trying to protect their children from harm.

Be compassionate and helpful to these parents and any parents handling any type of disability or challenge. 

Teach your children that bullying because someone has food allergies, or for any other reason, is unacceptable.

Lead by example.

Don’t bully or joke about those with food allergies or other disabilities, and maybe your children will grow up to be kind, empathetic people.

It all starts with you and how you treat people. 

Treat them well.

Remember, we’re all in this together. We’re all facing challenges with something.

As I prepare to have surgery, I pray this message will reach many. I pray my children will survive and thrive no matter what happens. I pray I will be OK and wake up from anesthesia to a more tolerant and humane world.

Please help this dream become a reality.

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