Can you say lymphangioleiomyomatosis?
Maybe not but it affects the life of one Top of Utah teen -- McKell Weese. Her mother has what is called lymphangioleiomyomatosis or LAM.
LAM results in progressive destruction of healthy lung tissue with cyst formation and abnormal growth of smooth muscles cells not usually found in the lungs.
"My mom has numerous cysts in her lungs which rupture and are painful," says Weese, a Bonneville High senior. "Her lungs have collapsed four times in five months, requiring chest tubes and surgeries. Her lungs are literally glued to her chest wall so that they will not collapse as easily."
There is no cure or treatment for this disease and there are not many doctors who actually know much about it. Since her mother Lynette Weese has been ill, McKell Weese has had to change how she lives everyday life.
"I like to be by my mom's side to help her with little things like getting her ice and heat packs," the senior says. "I help with the chores around the house, and I do my best to help her in any way possible. Every day is filled with great concern as to how much pain (my mother) is having, and pondering as to how I can help her in any way possible."
Weese is not the only Top of Utah teen dealing with an ill family member -- there are others who are affected by health issues with loved ones.
"I am so worried that something might happen to her, or that she might have another seizure," Weese says. "I love (my mom) with all my heart. She is my constant support, and she is the one that I turn to when things don't turn out right. I talk to her about everything that goes on my life, and she understands me. I don't want to lose her, but I know that I can't control what happens."
Little things matter
Ashley Brown, a junior at Clearfield High, has an uncle -- Dan Charles of Chino, Calif. -- who is sick with lung cancer.
"I'm a lot more cautious about how I act around him; I can't eat certain things around him," Brown says. "I also take time out of my day to help him clean his house and anything else he needs me to do."
She adds, "I love my uncle and I feel bad for him. (This situation) has helped me realize the importance of family and service. I have been specifically affected because he and I were really close and I can't really do much except be there for support."
Katelynn Meadows, a junior at Clearfield High, tries to support her dad, who has a respiratory infection, as well.
"I just do little things he needs help with like getting him water," she says, or talking with him when he feels down and just being a comfort.
A respiratory infection isn't deadly, and her father has only had it for about a month and a half, but Meadows says it can turn into something deadly like pneumonia.
"I love my dad with all my heart and I don't like seeing him feel ill," she says.
Adam Sorensen a Bonneville High senior, says his grandmother has cerebral hemorrhage.
"I miss her very much," he says. "I go visit her at the hospital as much as possible but I miss just the way we used to joke around. I can't wait for her to get better."
A junior at Fremont High, who did not want to use his name, says, "I take life more seriously than I did before I found out that my brother had Schilder's disease."
Schilder's disease is a rare progressive demyelinating disorder, a form of multiple sclerosis.
"I talk to (my brother) a lot more than I used to," the junior says.
He adds, "He doesn't live with me (he lives in St. George) so we call each other a lot and try to do as many video chats online as we can. When we're together it means a lot more.
"We don't fight as often and this has brought us closer. He is my best friend, I love him. He's the strongest person I've ever met."
All these teens and the many others dealing with sick relatives need to know they're not alone.
Weese says, "To all of the kids who have parents who are ill, I would like to tell them to never give up hope. Trials and hardships are meant to make us stronger. You are never alone, there are so many others experiencing the same thing that we are going through. My heart goes out to all those who are going through the same thing."
K'Lila Bingham is a senior at Bonneville High School. She enjoys reading, photography and swimming. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.