In the 1980s, Sharon knew something was wrong when she woke up one morning and couldn’t see clearly. Upon examination, local doctors discovered abnormal blood vessels growing out of scar tissue around her eyes. “They hadn’t seen anything like it,” says Sharon. She received cryotherapy treatment to stop the vessels from bleeding, but her vision worsened, and a detached retina sent her back to the doctor’s office. This time, a biopsy of a nodule found on her neck revealed granulomas, or clumps of inflammatory cells. When they identified abnormal lung imaging, Sharon was diagnosed with sarcoidosis.
Over the next few years Sharon took medication for asthma-like symptoms, but only on an as-needed basis. Relatively symptom-free, she retired and enjoyed spending her newfound free time in the garden with her husband, Larry. They made plans to travel together. However, Sharon soon began having trouble walking. She couldn’t climb up stairs without struggling to catch her breathe. “It was hard for her to just get out of bed,” adds Larry.
“It seemed like my symptoms were suddenly getting worse every month,” says Sharon. A self-described independent and hopeful woman, it was difficult for her to adjust to relying on an oxygen machine and rollator. “It got to the point where [my doctor] knew it was only a matter of time before I might have a lot of major problems,” adds Sharon, “so he told me to go to Temple.”