An inspirational teenager battling a chronic illness is one step closer to a national award.
Jodie Vasquez, 19, from Currock in Carlisle, has been named on the regional shortlist for the Pride of Britain awards.
They recognise the nation’s unsung heroes, as well as rewarding people for their bravery or vital role within a community.
Jodie has type 3 hypermobility Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (EDS), an ‘invisible illness’ which is causing her internal organs to fail one by one.
Diagnosed four years ago, she was forced to be home-schooled, is unable to eat and is fed through a tube.
Despite a seemingly endless list of medical complications, last year Jodie – with the support of her mum Maxine Farish – set up Jodie’s Journey.
It aims to raise awareness of EDS, as well as funds for The Sick Children’s Trust, which provides accommodation for families with children in hospital.
Read More: Times & Star
Jodie Vasquez is calm, poised and beautiful. Her flawless skin and tallframe sparks envy among her peers – yet the 18-year-old would happily give it all up.
Jodie’s ethereal features are a common ‘side effect’ of Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (EDS), an ‘invisible illness’ of various types. Jodie has been diagnosed with type 3 hypermobility, and her dainty features conceal internal organs that are failing one by one.
“Sometimes I wish people could see the pain in my tummy,” says Jodie, “so they know how bad it is. The worst thing people say is ‘But you look okay’ – I hate that.”
Her mum, Maxine Farish, added: “People don’t see Jodie in the middle of the night, in pain and crying; they just have glimpses of this beautiful young girl.”
The two sit side-by-side in Jodie’s room at their home in Currock, Carlisle, reluctantly preparing to talk about her illness. Neither likes the attention, but are aware it is a necessary evil to publicise their charitable venture, Jodie’s Journey.
Jodie was diagnosed with the life-threatening illness EDS only three years ago. Since then she has had to endure her small intestine slowly failing, the removal of her appendix and the removal of her large bowel – to be replaced with a permanent stoma or ileostomy.
Read More: North-west Evening Mail