Danville Teen with Rare Disease Remains Hopeful
Danville, VA - Brianna Harper is only 16 years old was recently diagnosed with a disease that destroys some of her glands.
Saturday, her family held a fundraiser to help cover some of the medical bills.
Brianna is in stage two of Sjogren Syndrome, which is drying up all her organs, and making it very hard to do everyday activities.
Although there's no cure, Brianna stays hopeful.
"Dancing, singing, acting, I played a little sport every now and them and going to school," Brianna said.
One day, Brianna had an allergic reaction to an antibiotic used to treat bacterial infections. The medication made her swell up, break out in hives, and have trouble breathing. She and her family went from doctor to doctor.
"They just kept giving her Benadryl and steroids, which just made it worse," explained Hope Harper," Brianna's Mom.
"I was like, what's happening to me," Brianna said.
Eventually, Brianna was diagnosed with Sjogren Syndrome.
"They way the doctors explained it to us was that she's always had it, she was born with it, and shouldn't have had any reaction to it till her late 40s or 50s but because of the reaction from the medication, it threw her into it early," Harper said.
All Brianna's organs are drying up. Her saliva glands are gone and she only has a little bit of fluid left in her tear ducts
"She gains fluid in her joints, so she swells a lot. Her thyroid, she has a couple of small tumors on her thyroid," Harper said. "It's a lot, It really is, because like I said, I can't do everyday stuff that I used to do."
Brianna says her faith is what's getting her through.
"Praying, reading my bible," Brianna said.
Brianna says now she's using this fundraiser to raise awareness.
"You've just got to have a positive mindset," Brianna said positively.
The fundraiser raised more than $1,000 for Brianna's medical bills. She has also started taking medicine that doctors say will help slow down her symptoms.
Doctors say there's no cure for Brianna's condition, but think they can put it into remission.