Cinthia Ramirez Lezama's Story

Not many people have heard of dermatomyositis. It's extremely uncommon and hard to pronounce. No one could detect that was the problem with Cinthia. The disease just sort of came on with a profound weakness that made her feel "like a baby that had just been born," the 19 year old explains.

Miland Knapp, Cinthia Ramirez Lezama Photo

Finally her disease was diagnosed. Dermatomyositis, which can cause rashes and severe muscle weakness, is a rare inflammatory disease. Shortly after learning what was wrong with her, she was at home when she choked, and then could not physically move. Cinthia couldn't even stand and was rushed to the hospital.

Cinthia spent weeks at Knapp receiving many therapies and, after getting discharged, she came back as an outpatient. While she was here, the staff took care of her and felt invested in getting her better. "They pushed me to be the best that I can be," she remembers, "and all of the different therapies were harder because of my muscle weakness." Besides physical and occupational therapy, Cinthia received speech therapy. Not only did she have trouble swallowing, but she also couldn't express sounds the same as before.

Nothing is really "curable" in the medicine branch of rheumatology, but symptoms can be treated and managed. She still comes in every three months to see a rheumatologist and get her blood counts and enzymes checked. Her disease is now in remission but could reoccur at any time. Nevertheless, she hopes that the severity of the symptoms would be much less severe thanks to her therapy and medications.

Now a college student, Cinthia is learning to drive. Although she will live with this disease forever, she doesn't dwell on it and is moving on with her life. "I owe so much to the all of the doctors, nurses and therapists at Knapp. They really kept my spirits up. They gave me my life back."