For approximately seven years, Sherisse Alexander, 28, from Tortuga Village, Claxton Bay, has been living with Plexiform Neurofibroma, a rare and incurable nerve disorder.
Her nerves are forming lumps or tumors which cause excruciating pain and discomfort daily. Alexander has spent a quarter of her life trying several different types of treatments for her condition such as acupuncture, massage therapy, numerous painkillers, and nerve tablets, herbal medicine, exercising, reflexology, and dieting to no avail, however, her health has continued to deteriorate.
Speaking to Sunday Guardian Alexander said "Initially I was on one form of steroid tablet but was taken off it because I was drastically underweight.
"My doctors were concerned that my body would not be strong enough to handle the side-effects of the steroid.
"I'm 5' 2", my normal weight would be 108 lbs, my lowest was 65 lbs, right now I'm struggling to maintain 70 lbs."
"Some of the medicine I take causes nausea and affects my appetite.
I also experience insomnia, great difficulty standing and walking, and now have to use a cane for assistance."
She said she had disc bulging and inflammation in her lumbar spine.
Alexander can no longer straighten her left knee due to lumps in that region and was almost always in some sort of pain or discomfort.
She recently had to stop working because a lump had developed on the instep of her left foot which made it even more difficult to move around and stand.
Alexander, a former model, and winner of the 2012 Ms Butler Heritage Pageant representing the House of Jacqui was able to work up to May last year, right after she was warded at the San Fernando General Hospital for three days with a blood clot condition.
She worked as a bank teller at Heartland Plaza, Chaguanas, and when that branch closed she was offered a position at the St James branch.
Alexander explained because of her condition she doesn't sleep properly and found herself falling asleep at the wheel on several occasions.
She couldn't risk driving such a long distance to St James and declined the job offer.
Alexander started work at another bank in October in Couva, but after three weeks another lump broke out on the instep of her left foot.
The nerve pain became unbearable, her painkiller medication wasn't working, her mother had to come for her as she couldn't drive. She was forced to give up her bank job as she could not stand for too long, the cold exacerbated her condition and she tried getting a job where she could work from home.
Sherisse Alexander's pain relief salve.
Alexander started a small business designing handcrafted greeting cards, positivity charts, handmade jewelry, all-natural bath and body soaps and recently launched a pain relief balm to try and offset some of her expenses.
She said because they had exhausted their pain management options, her doctors were now recommending surgery as the next step.
Alexander's neurologist had suggested that such a procedure be done abroad since local facilities did not have the right equipment to continuously monitor the nerves during the excision of the tumors.
She and her family have been trying to raise funds through different fundraisers, however, COVID-19 hampered this process.
Alexander revealed that in previous years, she and her family had handled all of her medical bills independently, however, it had come to a point where they require more help.
She disclosed that her three older siblings and her came from a single-parent home, they knew hardship, the family was not wealthy, until secondary school she was still studying for exams under candle and lamplight.
The figure provided to Alexander by Johns Hopkins Hospital in the US for her treatment was around US $200,000 to $500,000. This does not include airfare, accommodation and other expenses, when her left leg was operated on, she would need someone to be her caretaker.
She would greatly appreciate any form of assistance given.
Donations can be made to either of the following bank accounts which are under the name Sherisse Alexander:
Unit Trust Corporation, Account #: 6139894-002
RBC, Account #: 110000003659335
UTC account 6139894-002
Real Helping Hands account https://realhelpinghands.com/campaign/support-sherisse-alexander-in-her-fight-against-plexiform-neurofibroma/
Fundmetnt account: https://fundmetnt.com/campaign/support-sherisse-alexander-in-her-fight-against-plexiform-neurofibroma