By Mia Rosini, FARE Teen Advisory Group
My Food Allergy Action Hero is someone I’ve never met. She is Sloane Miller, the author of “Allergic Girl,” published in 2011. At the time, my mother went to a lecture given by Sloane and she brought home the book with a signed note: “Dear Mia, Be unstoppable!” I looked at the cover of a girl holding a bowl of pistachios and all I could think was that my life would stop if I ate that bowl of nuts. In fact, I felt really sick just looking at the cover. Then I took the book and stuffed it into my bookshelf because I couldn’t even look at it.
A few years later, I randomly dug the book out and started reading. It talked about fear, the trauma of a reaction, and the ever present stress with every food. It was so relatable and reassuring that there was someone out there who knew what I felt and had paved the way for a food-safe life. It made me feel better that even she as an adult sometimes leaned on her mother or her “safe-friend” to give her the support she needed. In only a few years, I’ll be going away to college and I will have to figure out a way to eat away from the safety of my mom’s kitchen. But Sloane made it through college, so maybe I can too.
I’m 15 years old and I’m getting better at advocating for myself. My parents keep encouraging me to speak up and talk to the waiters at restaurants. Intellectually, I know I need to be forceful and explain that I have a life-threatening allergy and that I might need to go to the hospital if I ate tree nuts or sesame. But it’s hard to do it … it seems so dramatic. Sloane talked about dating and kissing a man with nut residue in his beard. If I can’t have “the talk” with a waiter, how am I going to have “the talk” with a potential boyfriend? Seems like a perfect way to destroy the mood of first date. I just want to be like a normal teenager — but Sloane has made me realize that this is my normal. I’ve decided that I am going to take Sloane’s advice … and be unstoppable!
Mia Rosini, age 15, is a high school sophomore living in Gladwyne, PA. Her hobbies include playing squash and violin. Mia is allergic to tree nuts and sesame.
May is Food Allergy Action Month! We are profiling and thanking our Food Allergy Action Heroes throughout the month of May to show the many ways that our community is making a difference. Go to www.foodallergyweek.org to learn more about how you can take action and become a Food Allergy Action Hero yourself!