Healing fest helps Jackson woman battle illness - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Jackson 10/12/08

Healing fest helps Jackson woman battle illness

By Roslyn Anderson

Until four years ago, Katiffany Andrews had never heard of Sarcoidosis, a disease that causes the body's organs to shut down.

It's affecting her liver and pancreas.

Sunday, the public learned more about the illness and her struggle during a Healing Fest at Cathedral A.M.E. Zion Church.

"Last year this time I was not walking," said Andrews.

At that time Katiffany Andrews was in a wheelchair.

Now she is standing and singing God's praises, as a community unites to help her claim healing.

The 29-year-old Jackson resident is battling Sarcoidosis, an excruciatingly painful illness that involves the inflammation of small lumps of cell in various organs of the body.

The Belhaven College graduate was diagnosed in 2004 after suffering abdominal problems.

"It was cold sweats, it was fever.  It was throwing up a lot.  Things that are just no normal that you normally don't go through.  I went to the emergency room not knowing what was going on with me," said Andrews."

She had attained her real estate license and was in her second semester of Mississippi College's MBA Program when she became ill.

Andrews is undergoing treatment at the Mayo Clinic where she met comedian and actor Bernie Mac.

"Bernie Mac did have this disease.  He did pass because of complications of this disease.  My lungs are not affected as my other organs.  His were mainly in his lungs.  Mine have mainly been in my abdominal tract," said Andrews.

This Victory of Love and Healing Fest in the sanctuary of Cathedral A.M.E. Zion  is a tribute to her faith.

Organizers said the uplifting event is also to shed light on the incurable disease that is prevalent among young African American women.

Event organizer Dr. Elaine Hayes Anthony said, "What we want to do is make the community aware that this is something that Katiffany wants to do.  This is a journey that she wants to take, and she wants to help someone else."

Medical experts say Sarcoidosis can affect any organ but mainly the lungs, lymph nodes, eyes and skin.

It is often misdiagnosed and has a mortality rate that is 13 times higher in blacks than in whites.

Katiffany's mission is nationwide Sarcoidosis awareness.

She said, "It's important that you as soon as your body is trying to tell you something that you go find out what's going on because it may be something that you never heard of before."  

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