Nearly five years ago, I was sitting at my desk on a Charlotte hospital campus when I heard that awful phrase for the first time. I was writing a press release when my mother called to tell me through tears that a geneticist had just told her and my dad that my 7-year-old little sister was going to die.
I wish I’d never heard of Batten disease. I wish I could wrap my brain around the idea that one single defective gene out of the estimated 20- to 30,000 we humans have can cause all of the terrible things that are a part of Batten disease. But a large part of me is glad that I can’t always wrap my brain around the truth that all of those terrible things are happening or will happen to my little sister, now 12. Because it’s during those moments of truth that I’m engulfed by feelings of helplessness and despair.
I’m proud of all that Taylor’s Tale has done to advance the search for a cure. Nearly $300,000 and many stories later, we’re much closer than we were on the day of that fateful phone call. More than that, however, I’m proud of my family for how they’ve faced this monster each day with nothing but hate for it and love for each other. And most of all, I’m proud of my sister for never losing her beautiful spirit – even in those moments when the twisted demon of a disease is at its strongest.
Today marks the beginning of Batten Disease Awareness Weekend, so I have a small favor to ask: over the next few days, please make a point to share Taylor’s Tale with everyone you know. Scientists are very close to finding an answer for infantile Batten disease, but that answer will never reach the children who so desperately need it unless more people know about it. Batten disease is anonymous in the eyes of much of the world, and that has to change. Then, and only then, will we witness a miracle worthy of the courage that lives in each and every one of these children.