Working with people diagnosed with food allergies and Celiac disease has opened my eyes to the world around me. Prior to this, the only person I knew with severe food allergies was a younger cousin of mine whom I spend very little time with. But, when you start paying attention, you figure out there are many people living with food allergies, Celiac disease or other food related intolerances or restrictions.
One day, I came into work and a co-worker, Genevieve Fraser, asked if I was the one with the food allergy therapist magnet on my car. When I said yes, she informed me that she has an anaphylactic allergy to peanuts, and has since she was very young. Suddenly, it was in my awareness that I had been bringing peanut butter to work almost every day that I am in that office, not even realizing my office neighbor, just across the hall, has to carry an Epipen everywhere she goes because of peanuts! Boy did that get my attention!
I didn’t stop bringing peanut butter to work at first, but I noticed I felt nervous and worried every time I did, so I finally stopped bringing it. However, I noticed being concerned about others using her office when she was not around, and wondering if people were taking peanuts in there. I finally decided that I should learn more about what it is like living as an adult with a severe anaphylactic food allergy, rather than just going off what I read and my own assumptions.
When I asked Genevieve if I could do a feature interview on her, she was so great and willing to share her story. I have to say, this interview was so informative, empowering, emotional, and motivating, that it really helped put some aspects of living with life threatening food allergies into perspective. Genevieve not only survived her childhood, despite bullying and being different, but has gone on to complete her college degree and is working on her master’s. She has dedicated herself to helping others overcome challenging obstacles in their lives so that they can live a full life, despite whatever challenges they might be facing. I hope you enjoy this interview as much as I did! (more…)