, Salem, MA

September 17, 2013

Letter: Raising awareness, support for victims of illness

The Salem News

---- — To the editor:

I would like to inform your readers that the third week of September is Mitochondrial Disease Awareness Week. Mitochondrial disease is an inherited chronic illness that causes debilitating physical, developmental and mental disabilities. One in 2,000 people in the United States may have mitochondrial disease and not even know it. Most people, even those in medical professions, have never heard of it, and it is very difficult to diagnose.

Mitochondrial disease or “Mito,” as the disease is called for short; symptoms can vary from person to person and can appear at any age. Some symptoms include muscle weakness, fatigue, pain, vision or hearing problems. Mitochondria are present in every cell to help produce energy. In a patient with mitochondrial disease ,the mitochondria of the cell fails to produce enough energy for cell or organ function, resulting in devastating symptoms.

Our family is affected, and we celebrate this week in honor of my 16-year-old daughter who suffers from Mito. We try to spread awareness all year long, but especially during this week. It is our goal to help another family know that they are not alone in their fight against mitochondrial disease.

Help is available through MitoAction. MitoAction is a Boston-based 501(c)(3) charity whose mission is to improve the quality of life for everyone affected by Mito through support, advocacy and educational initiatives. Please visit their website for more information: Thank you for helping us educate others about this misunderstood disease.

Loree Blanchette