(WMC-TV) – What if an unknown illness cost you everything? That is what happened to a Mid-South woman whose medical crisis has baffled doctors for almost three years now.
It is a medical mystery you may find hard to watch, but what this woman lost to disease she has gained in strength and spirit.
Shanyna Isom was a high school graduate working toward a law degree.
"I was in my junior year and I was studying criminal justice," she said.
Today, loved ones have to help her get out of bed or off of the sofa.
"It's almost as if it's a nightmare and you're trying to wake up out of that," she says.
A nightmare that began in September 2009 when Isom had an allergic reaction to steroids she was given for an asthma attack. Within months, she was eaten alive by a debilitating skin disease doctors have yet to diagnose.
"Over time it started to turn my legs black with bumps," Isom said.
Doctors in Memphis treated Isom for everything from eczema to a staph infection.
"And we know it couldn't be that after all the medication she had been on," Shanyna's Aunt, Jataun Isom said.
"They've tested me from A to Z and everything was coming back negative," Shanyna said.
In August 2011 Isom was accepted into Johns Hopkins in Baltimore.
Doctors determined she produces 12 times the number of skin cells per hair follicle, which suffocates her skin.
Instead of hair, her skin follicles produce human nails.
"Where hair grows, nails are growing," she said.
Doctors have been able to control her symptoms.
"I couldn't sit up I couldn't walk," said Isom. "Now I can walk with a cane and sometimes I can walk on my own."
But Isom's mysterious health crisis has caused a financial crisis.
Her state-issued insurance does not cover her out-of-state care and only covers five of the 17 medications she is prescribed.
"So we had to depend on the family and friends and different fundraisers and things like that to help me get back and forth," she said.
Those savings accounts have dried up.
Isom has a quarter of a million dollars in outstanding medical bills. She is afraid she won't be able to continue the treatment that could save her life.
"As of right now, I am the only one in the world with my illness," Isom said.
While Johns Hopkins researchers work to cure her, loved ones rally around her.
"We know that God is a healer and he's going to bring her through," Carrie Isom, Shanyna's Grandmother said.
"At this point I just do everything I can to get the help that's needed for her," said Shanyna's friend Tolungia Webb.
"I love her and I know that she's gonna get better," friend Karintha Rawls said.
Isom has established the S.A.I. Foundation to raise money for her treatments and to one day help others suffering from an unknown illness.
"If it means me dealing with this to help someone else, I'm willing to go through it," Isom said.
The S.A.I Foundation is accepting donations at any Bank of America branch.
On August 24, friends will hold another fundraiser in Memphis.
In September, Westwood High School, where Shanyna attended is dedicating their football game to her cause.
Tuesday, May 21 2013 2:15 PM EDT2013-05-21 18:15:12 GMT
The two men battling for the chance to become Jackson's next mayor campaigned into the night as voters prepared to go to the polls for Tuesday's democratic primary runoff. On the WLBT 6pm report, we talkedMore >>
The two leading men battling for the chance to become Jackson's next mayor campaigned into the night as voters prepared to go to the polls for Tuesday's Democratic Primary runoff.More >>
Tuesday, May 21 2013 10:34 AM EDT2013-05-21 14:34:41 GMT
NOTE: Photos and videos will be added to this story later in the evening. The Walthall County Sheriffs Department along with The Humane Society of the United States are in the process of raiding a puppyMore >>
Among the dogs, many are dead, and skeletal remains were mixed with living animals in small, dark, filthy enclosures.More >>
Tuesday, May 21 2013 12:50 PM EDT2013-05-21 16:50:22 GMT
MOORE, OK (RNN) – In one of the few positive stories to come from the deadly tornadoes in Oklahoma, an elderly woman was reunited with a four-legged friend she thought was dead. Barbara Garcia, a residentMore >>
Elderly resident Barbara Garcia frantically called for her dog after the tornado had leveled her house, but with no success.More >>
Tuesday, May 21 2013 1:35 PM EDT2013-05-21 17:35:44 GMT
Linda Gale Reed is accused of stealing over $20,000 from her employer in Copiah County, Moore Fabrication. That's what led investigators to change her status from missing to wanted during their 2012 searchMore >>
Linda Gale Reed is accused of stealing over $20,000 from her employer in Copiah County, Moore Fabrication. That's what led investigators to change her status from "missing" to "wanted" during their 2012 search following her disappearance.More >>
Friday, May 17 2013 7:16 PM EDT2013-05-17 23:16:53 GMT
One person has died in a crash near Harrisonville, MO, Thursday evening. The crash happened on Missouri Highway 7 and Walker Road. It involved a car and a tractor-trailer. Harrisonville is in Cass County.More >>
Savannah Nash celebrated her 16th birthday last week. She died Thursday when her car slammed into a semi while she was texting during her first time driving by herself.More >>
Tuesday, May 21 2013 1:41 PM EDT2013-05-21 17:41:07 GMT
The Jackson Police Department is searching for two men who robbed a cell phone store Monday night. Shortly before 7 p.m., two male suspects entered the T-Mobile store at 4924 I-55 north. They robbedMore >>
The Jackson Police Department is searching for two men who robbed a cell phone store Monday night.More >>
Monday, May 20 2013 11:48 PM EDT2013-05-21 03:48:15 GMT
A woman has been arrested after she allegedly locked her four young daughters out of their home for days at a time.A witness told police that the four girls, ages 7, 5, 3 and 1, had been in the same dirtyMore >>
A woman has been arrested after she allegedly locked her four young daughters out of their home for days at a time.More >>
Tuesday, May 21 2013 9:20 PM EDT2013-05-22 01:20:17 GMT
Residents in tornado-stricken Moore, OK, await news on missing love ones Tuesday, a day after a massive tornado devastated the city, killing at least 51. Rescuers worked all night, with particular attentionMore >>
The tornado, with winds up to 200 mph, cut a 20-mile stretch as wide as two miles through the Oklahoma City metro area. The medical examiner's office reported 24 people died, including nine children. More >>
Tuesday, May 21 2013 12:10 PM EDT2013-05-21 16:10:13 GMT
The Ridgeland Police Department is searching for two suspects, both accused of stealing a cell phone, and is asking for the public's help identifying the men.According to Detective Don Martin, the firstMore >>
The Ridgeland Police Department is searching for two suspects, both accused of stealing a cell phone, and is asking for the public's help identifying the men.More >>
Tuesday, May 21 2013 5:48 PM EDT2013-05-21 21:48:55 GMT
The storm system from Oklahoma is moving eastward Tuesday night. A Tornado Watch is in effect for Humphreys, Attala and Holmes counties until 10 p.m. Tuesday. The brunt of the action will stay northMore >>
The storm system from Oklahoma is moving eastward Tuesday night. A Tornado Watch is in effect for Humphreys, Attala and Holmes counties until 10 p.m. Tuesday.More >>
WLBT 3 - Fox 40
715 South Jefferson Street
Jackson, Mississippi 39201