My name is Rodney K. Reese and I would like to share my story with you. I was a very healthy and active individual before Sarcoidosis attack my body. I exercised, ran and worked two physically demanding jobs. One as a chemical plant process technician and the other as a Baton Rouge Firefighter. On April 15,1997 my whole life changed due to an explosion in my operating unit at the chemical plant. (Please read more about this on the next page Meet The Founder Continued). After being diagnosed with Sarcoidosis in February 2000 (yes it took that long to get a diagnosis) my doctors at that time told me that they didn't know much about the illness. I had two surgeons, one a urologist who performed surgery to remove a lump from my left testicle, and the other an ENT who performed sinus surgery because of what she said was not a normal sinus. Both surgeons called to report that they had good news, you don't have cancer. Both biopsy reports read non-cancerous legions but non-caseating granulomas consistent with Sarcoidosis. Neither doctor said anything about Sarcoidosis. If not for an allergist in the ENT's office who read my report and informing her that I may have Sarcoidosis, I dread to think of where I may be today.
I had to find new doctors. By now I needed a Primary Care, Pulmonologist, Orthopedic, Opthamologist, Rheumatologist, Hematologist, Dr. of Physical Medicine and a Pain Management doctor. The lack of information given to me about Sarcoidosis scared me. I proceeded to spend countless hours on the internet and in book stores to educate myself. This thirst for knowledge lead me to travel the United States in search of a confirmed diagnosis and new treatments because of the side effects of the high dosages of prednisone I was taking. I became a part of a research protocol at The National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, a health evaluation at the National Jewish Hospital in Denver, CO. I also attended patients conferences in Chicago, IL, Denver, CO, Memphis, TN and New Orleans, LA.
I would bring information gathered from my travels to my doctors. Some doctors asked me if I would talk with patients who needed someone to talk to that understood what they were going through. Thus started the Sarcoidosis Awareness Support Group of Greater Baton Rouge. Since starting the support group I have spoken at two medical conferences. The American Thoracic Society International Conference 2010 as a Sarcodosis patient and the Louisiana Medical Association Conference 2011. I am a member of the Foundation for Sarcoidosis Research Support Group Advisory Council and a good friend of The Bernie Mac Foundation. Knowing and seeing the need for research for Sarcoidosis, I founded The Sarcoidosis Awareness Foundation of Louisiana, Inc a 501 c 3 non-profit organization in 2012. I truly believe that I was given this illness for a reason and I will do everything I can as long as I can to bring awareness, education and help to raise research dollars. Also to support patients, their families, friends caregivers and anyone just wanting to learn about the disease.