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Stories of warriors touched by Wilson’s Disease and how they fought back by rallying people they know to walk with them and raise money for the patient registry.

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Izzy Hoffman warrior

I’m Izzy Hoffman and I was diagnosed with WD when I was 14 years old. I was a perfectly healthy athletic kid, rarely missing a day of school. In February of 2015 I came down with a sinus infection. My mom took me to the doctor and I was prescribed an antibiotic and felt better for a few days, then I became sick with the same symptoms. By March I was really sick and barely able to get out of bed. My doctor thought I had mono and ran labs to verify. When the labs came back the results were negative for mono, what concerned my doctor was my liver function test was extremely high and my white count was low. More test were run and my doctor consulted with a rheumatologist and a hematologist. Both doctors thought whatever I had was viral. Weeks went by and I was getting worse not better. My mom insisted to my doctor that we continue to look for answers. My family started to call me Sleeping Beauty because all I did was sleep.

Our primary doctor sent us to Dr. Flynn, an infections disease Disease doctor. Dr. Flynn checked my ceruloplasmin which was very low. This was our first link to WD. Dr. Flynn sent us to a Pediatric GI doctor, Dr. Cameron. He decided I needed a liver biopsy. I had a liver biopsy at Bronson Hospital on May 28, 2015. When the results came back he was not able to make a diagnosis and consulted with Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. CCH called my mom and said they could see us the next day. We quickly packed the car and drove 5 hours to Cincinnati. The next day was full of tests and another liver biopsy. I spent the night in the hospital and the next day we drove home.

On June 16, 2015, we received the official diagnosis of WD.

I was relieved to get a diagnosis and start on medication. I thought it would be like being on an antibiotic and within a few days I would feel better. That has not been the case for me and it’s been a long, slow road to regaining my health.

I take Syprine for WD. I was also diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome about 8 months after WD. I have a mild form of Ehlers-Danlos, but because I was sick and inactive for so long with Wilson’s Disease the Ehlers-Danlos caused my blood vessels to become elastic and I have a hard time pumping blood back to my heart. I now get IV infusions to increase the volume of my blood. The IV’s have been very helpful in making me feel better.

I’ve learned to live my life one day at a time. I will not let Wilson’s disease define me! You must be your own advocate and educate people about your disease.

Having an invisible illness is extremely difficult. I get really frustrated by how fatigued I get. I must analyze my week and if I want to do a big activity on Friday then I will need to take it easy on Wednesday and Thursday. It’s frustrating that I can’t lead a life of a normal teenager.

Educate yourself on the symptoms of Wilson’s Disease. Wilson’s specialist feel over ½ of the cases of Wilson’s Disease goes undiagnosed. Through the WDA and The Big WOW we can bring awareness to this disease and save lives.

Not long after I was diagnosed with WD my mom saw the video for The Big WOW. It was the first time we felt people were describing what I was experiencing. When you search the internet for WD the results are rather generic and seem to say take some medication and you will live a normal life. Wilson’s Disease just isn’t that simple, with it being so rare there just isn’t a huge base to say what is normal. So, if you are newly diagnosed I would recommend sharing the video the Simopolisis family put together with your friends and family to help them understand how diverse this disease is. My mom shares this the video and gives a link to the WDA website to my teachers and coaches at the start of each school year.

My goal is to be a doctor. I know this will be extremely difficult as I continue to recover. What I try and focus on is what has been made possible that wouldn’t be possible if I didn’t have Wilson’s. I’ve met many wonderful people in the medical field. I feel as a doctor I will have compassion and a relatability that I wouldn’t have if it weren’t for Wilson’s Disease.



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