Hi everyone! My name is Alyssa, and I am from the Lehigh Valley in Pennsylvania. I was diagnosed with celiac disease thirteen years ago. I am currently in my early twenties, so it has been a long road.
When I first started to have symptoms, I was eight years old, and nobody had any idea what was going on. I was missing school and visiting my doctor’s office more than usual because my symptoms were progressively getting worse. I wasn’t growing or gaining weight. My doctor decided to order blood work since I recently had mononucleosis. My grandmother was diagnosed with celiac disease a few months before, so my parents brought up the idea to test me for it since it is a genetic condition. I was afraid and confused, but after tests, blood work, and an endoscopy, I was finally diagnosed with celiac disease. Back then, there wasn’t a support system for people with celiac disease and only a few people in my life had heard of it before.
My family members were my biggest advocates, especially my parents who went above and beyond for me to make sure I was safe while going out and at school. Being diagnosed so young and watching how my family supported me gave me the push to study social work at my college. I hope to work in a hospital setting in the future, helping children and their families through a new diagnosis and supporting them while they are in the hospital.
Becoming a Beyond Celiac ambassador gives me the opportunity to be part of a support system for those who are recently diagnosed—something I didn’t have when I was diagnosed all those years ago. I am very excited to begin this journey with the Beyond Celiac team and bring awareness to celiac disease!