Shawn loves the excitement of new adventures, taking road trips, and serving others through volunteer work. But for as long as she can remember, she had battled near-constant respiratory infections. When chronic illness made traveling nearly impossible, ARJ steered her back on the road to good health.
Since childhood, Shawn had struggled with recurring sinus infections, tonsillitis, and ear problems. Years of enduring these persistent flu-like symptoms had taken a toll, but it was difficult to imagine another way of life. “It just felt normal to me,” she explains. “Regardless of what was going on, I was always sick.”
She sought help from specialists, tried controlling her symptoms with over-the-counter medications, and even adjusted her diet. Nothing seemed to work.
But something finally clicked when Shawn was referred to an immunologist. And in 2012, she was diagnosed with common variable immune deficiency (CVID). The rare genetic disorder impairs the immune system and leads to increased infections in the lungs, sinuses, and ears.
Identifying the complex condition was a start, but finding effective treatment continued to be a challenge. While her symptoms continued to spin out of control, Shawn’s hope for finding permanent relief seemed miles away.
The couple was on the scene to assist families in need when a deadly tornado tore through Kansas City in 2003. And they didn’t hesitate to hit the road in 2005 to provide relief to Hurricane Katrina survivors in New Orleans.
Working through Shawn’s health issues while being of service to others only deepened their bond. But Shawn’s ailments eventually outpaced her good-natured spirit of adventure. It became more clear than ever that she had to focus her limited energy toward taking care of herself.
A surprising passenger
Her immunologist suggested she would be a good candidate for the treatment. And he recommended the compassionate clinicians at ARJ to administer the infusions.
As soon as she scheduled her first treatment, Shawn was certain ARJ had her back. “I knew within minutes he had chosen the right place,” she says. “It was clear everyone genuinely wanted me to feel better and stay better.”
Shawn was surprised to learn she could receive the treatments right in the comfort of her home. “I was just so relieved when I met my nurse for the first time,” she says, referring to Andrea Athearn, R.N. “I could tell how much everyone at ARJ cares. They took a genuine interest in my medical history, my schedule, and my comfort.”
Shawn now looks forward to catching up with Andrea during her monthly visits. Treatments can last up to eight hours, so the two have developed a solid routine—and an unexpected friendship. “She’s a very special person, and ARJ holds a special place in my heart,” she says. “I’ve never felt better than I do right now.”
The scenic route
These days, Shawn’s calendar is filling up fast. After a summer trip devoted to exploring Colorado, she plans to hike and camp out in the Canadian Rockies with Dan and their 5-year-old dog, Moqui.
One thing is for sure—she’s not slowing down, and she’s ready for her next adventure.