Last week my mom and I had a very special fundraiser to raise awareness and funds to further RSD research! Our dear friend, Maricarmen, opened up her beautiful wine shop to us and we had an exhibition of my mom's incredible photos of Cerro de la Silla as well as a wine and cheese tasting! It was a wonderful time! Sierra Made magazine in Monterrey published an article about the event in today's paper, and I translated it into English to share it with everyone! I am so proud of my Mommy!
Thanks for checking in!
God bless- Que Dios te bendiga!
"Busca cerros de ayuda" (Looking to the mountains for help)
Sarah Stevens, mother of Jessica, the young woman with Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy who was treated with success by local doctors, exhibits 45 photos of Cerro de la Silla to sell and raise funds to search for a cure for the disease.
Cerro de la Silla has become the symbol of Sarah Stevens crusade to find a cure for Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD), the terrible disease her daughter suffers from.
The mother of Jessica, the North American girl who was treated with great success by doctors in Monterrey for her illness, held an exhibition of her photos called "Monterrey through Sarah's eyes," where she displayed her beautiful photographs of Cerro de la Silla, the emblematic icon of Monterrey. Her photos were on sale to raise funds that will be allocated to continue to fund studies to find a cure for the disease.
"I came here to Monterrey for this experimental treatment for my daughter, Jessica, and I came to love this city, it's people, and it's beautiful mountains. For that reason, I took many photos of Cerro de la Silla, because for me, it was a distraction from all that was happening to my daughter. At first, it was just to occupy my mind, but it soon became my passion."
The exhibition was held at Vinos Del Mundo on July 19th, with a multitude of guests who arrived at the scene to see the amazing shots of the mountain from different parts of the city, at different times of the day- from morning sunrise, to late night, from the hospital, and also from Missiones, Chipinque and Club Campestre as well.
"For me, the mountain symbolizes hope, strength and courage for us, as well as being the symbol of this wonderful city," says Sarah, who resides now in Naples, Florida.
While all in attendance enjoyed the photos, they also enjoyed sampling carious wines like, Vinas las tintas, Finca Flichman, and Vina Carmen, organized by Maricarmen Zavala, owner of Vinos de Mundo.
About 45 photos were displayed for sale for between 200 and 500 pesos. Also orange "Find a cure for RSD" bracelets were sold for 20 pesos.
"Everybody always asks me, 'how do you feel?' and I tell them, 'I am the happiest mom in the world because I came to Mexico hoping to help my daughter, and now she is doing great, we both have a life again."
"My daughter and I consider Monterrey our second home. Everybody that we have met here has become our second Mexican family."
When asked about Dr. Fernando Cantu, the anesthesiologist, who along with his team, saved Jessica's life, Sarah overflows with praise and gratitude.
"I am forever thankful to Dr. Fernando Cantu, to God for leading us here. All I can really say (to Cantu) is, 'May God bless you always for what you have done for my daughter... You are our angel. We will love him forever."
"Truth be told, I would have never thought these days would be possible."
"I FEEL FANTASTIC!"
Just like her mother, Jessica also see's Cerro de la Silla as a symbol of hope and of the miracle she received here in Monterrey.
"At first I thought my mom was crazy because when I was in the hospital, she would be standing by the window taking hundreds of pictures of the mountain. I would ask her, "why are you taking so many pictures!?" and she would respond, "because it is so beautiful!"
"I never could see the mountain because I couldn't get out of my hospital bed... But once I saw it... Wow...I finally understood why she was taking the photos, It was simply incredible!"
From the beginning to the end of the event, Jessica was smiling, socializing, and looked very happy. It was truly a wonderful sight to see, that after living a nightmare of pain where she could not move or eat, she can now interact normally with the world.
When asked about the condition, she responded, "RSD is devastating for the patients. They cannot move, or eat, and they are stuck in bed in agonizing pain. But it affects their families too."
Back in 2003, Jessica was 16 years old, living in New york with her parents. After finishing the school year, she went away to a summer camp where she was bitten by a tick on her right leg. Soon after, the problems began with severe headaches, strong pain and stomach paraylsis.
No doctor could diagnose the problem. She continued to progress with more symptoms, until eventually, she developed painful lesions and even being touched or wearing clothes was agonizing for her.
Her mother took her to many of the best hospitals in the United States, while she continued to decline, becoming unable to move or eat. Finally, a doctor at Columbia University made the diagnosis of RSD and referred her to Monterrey for the experimental ketamine coma protocol.
"I want every patient to experience the recovery that I have been blessed with...that is my new mission," says Jessica, now 25 years old.
"I pray that one day we will find a cure for RSD, but for now, Dr. Cantu and his team are the closest thing we have to that. What they have done for me, and others like me, is remarkable. I believe the cure will be found here in Monterrey."
Jessica went through two ketamine comas and spent 16 months in the hospital, but when asked how she feels about those moments, she changes the subject.
"How I feel...today, in this moment, is fantastic! I feel blessed to be able to fight for others suffering from the disease and I feel very proud of my mom and her photos!"
"Where there is life, there is hope," she says. "I am now back in school, studying medicine and I would like to come back to Monterrey and work with Dr. Cantu."
Jessica considers Cantu her second father. When she gets married, she wants to have him on one arm, and her biological father on the other.
She laughs, saying that she doesn't actually even have a boyfriend, "But I will work on that!"
"THE FORCE BEHIND THE EXHIBITION"
The organizer behind this exhibition is Maricarmen Zavala, daughter of Maria de Guadalupe Zavala, who is better known as "Dr. Rainbow," who volunteered to help the protocol and has closely followed the progress of Jessica.
"My mom says that after the first coma, "Jessi," had memory loss and did not recognize anything or anyone... Not even her mother. Can you imagine the pain Sarah felt, as her mother?" My mom would go everyday to the hospital wearing bright, vivd colors, and even though Jessi didn't know anything, she responded to the bright colors and began to associate my mother with that." says Maricarmen.
"We have become very close family friends, we love and care for them very much. Recently we were out having dinner together and Sarah was showing me some of her photos and I said, "what a waste to not share these!" Something so beautiful, for us we see Cerro de la Silla daily and so often we do not appreciate its beauty. It takes somebody coming here from outside to open our eyes to the beautiful things right in front of us!
She told Sarah, 'let's show the public your photos.' For now, we only showed these photos for one day, but we have not ruled out having another exhibition in September with many more of Sarah's images of this monumental, beautiful emblem of Monterrey."
"I lift my eyes up to the mountains- Where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, maker of Heaven and Earth."- Psalm 121
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