Food Allergy Fact

UP TO 15 MILLION PEOPLE IN THE U.S. HAVE A FOOD ALLERGY

Button - Green - Stay Informed

 

True Stories - Beth

Nicole D., age 18

Peanut Allergy


As a senior in high school, I have been living with a peanut allergy for more than 18 years. Recently I completed my senior project, which I dedicated to those affected by peanut allergy. My main goal was to educate, create awareness, and raise money to help researchers find a cure for peanut allergy. I also requested that shelled peanuts be banned from my schools in my district and school-sponsored activities. Of course I would love to see all peanut products banned from schools, but my main concern is the shelled peanuts.

This is personal to me because I have been living with a peanut allergy for over 18 years. My allergy was discovered when I was one year old with a small taste of peanut butter. I broke out into hives. At that point, my life changed forever. Eating became both stressful and frightening. A multitude of foods could no longer be eaten within our home. Everyone I know has to be extremely careful about what they eat around me.

At age 12, I experienced a   reaction called anaphylaxis, which is severe and can be life-threatening. I was at a soccer potluck dinner, and while I personally didn’t eat any foods with peanuts in them, people around me were eating them. I was affected either through cross-contact or physical contact with people eating peanut products. I was rushed to the hospital because I could not breathe. At that point, the severity of my allergy – and death – became very real. I survived, but some people are not so lucky. Some reactions end in tragedy.

Three years ago I moved to Mandeville, LA, from Virginia. My very first day of school as a freshman I entered one of my classes and students were making peanut butter sandwiches for a biology experiment. Completely embarrassed, I had to notify the teacher of the severity of my allergy in front of the entire class. The teacher sent me to sit in an all-senior class for that period. I was humiliated and embarrassed for the other students' first impression of me to be that.

Upon arriving at my new school, I quickly learned that shelled peanuts were commonly served at high school sporting events. I am a cross country and track runner, competing for state titles. Peanuts and their shells were found all over the ground, seats, bathrooms, etc. Dust from the peanut shells filled the air, and it made my lungs feel as though sandpaper was scratching and burning them. I had such a difficult time breathing at every race.

The good news is that I successfully lobbied administrators to restrict the sale of shelled peanuts in my school district and at school activities. I also raised a total of $1,000 for FARE by selling “No Nuts Allowed” water bottles, spearheading a sweat pant/gym short day fundraiser at my school, and collecting personal donations. I feel extremely proud to have made a difference in my community for allergic students and to have created awareness. A huge thank you to FARE for their support!