A 17 Year Old Writes: “You Can Do It!” on Life With Food Allergies
Kayleigh Peters is a 17 year old who decided to share a few thoughts for parents of little ones with food allergies in a Facebook group. Her post went viral in the food allergy community and was shared immediately. It is honest, heartfelt and so true, and it shines a light on food allergies and what it teaches us.
Meet Kayleigh, one amazing high school girl:
“Hi, I’m a 17 year old who has lived with a severe (as in contact and airborne reactive) allergy to peanuts since I was born.
Later I added soy and tree nut, and I am now peanut, treenut, soy, lentils, beans, peas, and wheat allergic.
I know that some of parents on this page are just now becoming introduced into the severe allergy world, and I want to offer some reassurance from the child perspective. I went to a public elementary school. I was given a “peanut-free table” at lunch even though on Thursdays the cafeteria served PB&J sandwiches. I ended up in the Nurses office every Thursday. I wasn’t able to play on the playground because of the contact, but still went to class with all the other children.
Throughout my elementary school years I became very close with the school nurse, but I never used my Epi at school even if I know I probably should have. The first time I used it I was 8 years old and I was at a birthday party. I ate peanut butter cup ice cream and within 5 minutes I couldn’t breathe. My parents weren’t there and the friends parents had to give me the Epi and call the ambulance.
This was probably the most terrifying moment for my parents when they got the call. But, I want to tell all of the parents out there that I turned out okay. I was raised in the time before the severity of allergies was understood, but I was still able to live my life.
Severe allergies are scary. I know this as well as anyone. I also have severe asthma. I’ve been in and out of the hospital all my life.
Yes, it’s harder for me to go out to eat or go on the same adventures that the other kids my age go one, but I still live my life.
Don’t let allergies hold you back or hold your child back. Everyone has obstacles in their lives.
Those of us with allergies have to learn til read labels, advocate for ourselves, inform others about who we are, we learn to scan crowds for candy bars being eaten by others, we learn to wipe down seats and tables, we learn to answer weird questions like “what happens if I eat it then lick you?”, we learn how nice the EMSA people can be.
Everything is a learning experience. But we can do it. Do not feel that you have to seclude yourself from the world because of you or your child’s allergies. Yes, this world is scarier when you have allergies. Yes, there are many many people out there who do not understand what we have to go through. But it is our job to not give up. We have to educate those around us. We have to keep living.
I just felt that sometimes that sort of thing needs to be said.
-From a girl who has lived with severe allergies and asthma all her life and has still gone to France for 2 weeks without her parents, dozens of road trips, public schools, airplanes, restaurants, and is going to Bangladesh in a month.
It’s going to be okay. It’s a scary world, but you are all strong. Your child will learn so much. They will be strong, independent, self-advocators.
You can do it.”