Sjogren’s, a disease you probably can’t see or pronounce, wreaks havoc on women

by Stacey Burling, STAFF WRITER
It took 10 years for Lisa Faricelli to get an explanation for the symptoms that were making her miserable.

 A former “superwoman” of a middle-school teacher, she was exhausted and had “terrible tingling, terrible burning” in her hands and feet. Her reflexes were impaired. She lost 20 pounds.

“I’m seeing doctor after doctor, week after week, and I’m not getting anywhere,” the 66-year-old Lumberton woman said.

 In 2009, she learned she has Sjogren’s syndrome, an autoimmune disease that attacks moisture-secreting glands throughout the body. The dry eyes and dry mouth that are usually the first symptoms came later for her.

She now has what is considered a severe case that is affecting her internal organs.
The saddest part, her husband, Jack, said, is that she can’t even cry about her plight. She can no longer make tears. Without them, Lisa Faricelli said, crying is physically painful, not cathartic.

“That’s an emotional outlet, and you don’t have that anymore,” she said.

Faricelli was among nearly 500 people diagnosed with Sjogren’s who attended the Sjogren’s Syndrome Foundation annual patient conference recently in Cherry Hill. The meeting was a chance to catch up on medical developments, commune with others with the same symptoms, and raise awareness for a disease that is often invisible and hard to pronounce. (Sjo sounds like show.)

 She is especially interested in raising awareness of the disease. So far, there are treatments only for individual symptoms, not underlying causes.

“It’s a very horrible disease and people need to know that it’s very difficult to live with, and it’s very hard on your family and your friends, and it’s very hard for you,” she said.
Steven Taylor, chief executive officer of the foundation, said nine companies are conducting trials for the condition, but no new treatments are imminent……
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