Sabrina Julianna Cannella was born in Toronto, Ontario on October 3rd, 1994. She is the eldest of three girls are currently resides with her family in a city north of Toronto. Sabrina grew alongside her two sisters Sophia (17) and Sonia (13), all lead normal, healthy typical childhoods and each developed distinctive personalities. Sabrina grew up a perfectionist, with an avid love for school and dance she always made sure to find the balance to excell at both while making sure to take time for those that she loved. She began her dance career at a young age and quickly advanced into a competitive level where she fell in love with hustle-and-bustle life of a full time honor student, and a competitive dancer. Her heart was always at it’s fullest when she was around children, she had an an avid love and gift when it came to caring for them.

In 2007 Sabrina fell ill with what her doctors and nurses believed to be a classic case of appendicitis, which instead was the beginning of a lifelong journey with many chronic illnesses that are rare in nature, and in combination. She has spent many of the past years deemed a medical mystery, and still continues to search for answers to her rare symptoms.

Sabrina (2o16) in hospital recieving treatment for a flare up of her Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) prior to her ketamine infusion at Toronto Western Hospital in July of 2016.

Doctors have attributed Sabrina’s combination of conditions to rare genetic disease known as Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS). EDS is caused by a defect in the protein collagen, that makes up connective tissue that is responsible for supporting and structuring the skin, blood vessels, bones, and organs. The defective collagen results in extremely flexible joints and frequent dislocations resulting from minimal trauma. Research has discovered multiple connections between Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome and various co-conditions.

One of these conditions is Dysautonomia, a disorder causing complete dysfunction of the autonomic nervous system; the syste
m that controls the automatic processes within your body. In Sabrina this causes uncontrollably high heart rates, drastically low blood pressures often leading to fainting, body temperature instability, and digestive tract paralysis.

In Sabrina’s case gastroparesis, or paralysis of the stomach, is said to be caused by a combination of Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome and the diagnosis of Biliary Dyskinesia a liver disease causing dysfunction of the biliary tubes within the liver. With these conditions eating and drinking orally has become very difficult and painful for Sabrina and often leads to bloating, poor digestion, vomiting, and a great deal of pain. Many of Sabrina’s current gastrointestinal symptoms and discomfort are still under investigation.

Throughout her life Sabrina has dealt with sensitive skin, unexplained rashes and severe seasonal allergies. However, after her first severe allergic reaction that progressed into anaphylaxis doctors suspected she had another condition commonly associated with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome: Mast Cell Activation Syndrome (MCAS). Mast cells are cells found in the bone marrow that are essentially responsible for allergic reactions as they release mediators and hormones such as histamine that cause the body to react. In Sabrina’s body, despite producing a typical amount of these cells her body they are in a constant state of degranulation. Degranulation is a term used to describe the release of allergic hormones from mast cells, indicating that Sabrina’s body is essentially in a constant allergic reaction. Upon exposure to stimuli, regardless of how minimal, it can send Sabrina into anaphylaxis; a life threatening allergic reaction that often causes swelling of the airway. Because of the sensitivity of the mast cells her triggers are not only limited to food but virtually anything: smells such as perfume or cigarette smoke, clothing composed of certain materials, emotions, temperatures, anything related to food such as pesticides or storage containers, medications, chemicals, cross-contamination, and even illnesses such as the common cold.

In October of 2014, Sabrina sustained an injury to her right shoulder that resulted in a dislocation that could not be corrected without surgery. Shortly after her surgery Sabrina was diagnosed with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS), a painful neurological nerve condition that is said to be one of the most painful diseases known to science. This condition is chronic and progressive and causes extreme hypersensitivity and pain that can be triggered by minimal stimuli such as wind, clothing, water, and even goosebumps or sweat. Sabrina is currently traveling to Boston, MA undergoing two treatments that happen bi-monthly in order to relieve her pain and gain control over the spontaneous flares.

Despite all of her conditions, Sabrina has a passion for advocacy and raising awareness for others that are facing any type of adversity. Sabrina anticipates gaining clearance to begin nursing school in hopes of becoming a pediatric oncology nurse. In the mean time she shows an avid interest in volunteering for causes that are important to her, and raising awareness for the conditions she battles in hopes of providing comfort to and connecting with others who may be struggling in similar ways.


One thought on “#abouttheauthor

  1. Elizabeth says:

    When I was diagnosed with CRPS it was called RSD (reflex sympathetic dystrophy). I can empathize with the pain you feel in a way those who do not have it cannot.
    I saw you smiling in your picture and thought “She gets it!” Life can still be wonderful even with serious illness.
    You are someone I wasn’t too get to know. You’re an inspiration. You’re truly a hero.


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