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Photo of Jocelyn posing in front of greenery

I’ve conquered my nut allergies, and it has changed my life!

Hi, my name is Jocelyn Louie and ever since I was a toddler, I have dealt with severe nut allergies. When I eat nuts, I develop lots of hives, rashes, bad tummy aches, and vomiting. Food allergies have been a big part of my life and have caused me to become afraid of eating, traveling, and going to hangouts that involve food.

My scariest experience with my food allergies is when my dad and some family friends took me out to a new burger joint when I was 8. Who knew that a burger would have walnut sauce in it? Once I ate it, I felt sick immediately and vomited a couple of times. My dad took me home, but we were too hesitant to use the EpiPen. There were hives all over my body and I was swollen like a marshmallow. I couldn’t even stand without feeling faint. After taking antihistamines and applying ice packs to my skin, I felt better.

Recently, I completed the COMBINE study, a clinical trial at the Sean N. Parker Center for Allergy and Asthma Research at Stanford University. Successfully completing the study has majorly impacted my life. For a year, I visited the clinic every other week for food challenges, blood draws, dosing, and injection visits. Some of the food challenges were all day long and required me to take the day off from school. During that free time, there were many things I could do, like watch TV, read, or do homework. But I spent a lot of the time doing what I love –ART!

Art has also been a major part of my life. I’ve always loved drawing and started taking art classes when I was 5. Every Sunday, I take a digital art class and learn how to draw cartoons, anime, and the anatomy of the human body. I love that I’m able to use art to express my creativity and imagination. It’s endless! In fact, art has allowed me to communicate my experience with food allergies.

Currently, I’m creating a graphic novel describing my food allergies and my visits to the clinic. My book is called Conquering Allergies. I’m hoping it can be a resource to others to know what to expect going through a clinical trial, specifically what the different treatments like oral immunotherapy (OIT) or injections can be like.  I also hope that by participating in a clinical trial that I’m helping advance allergy research. Maybe one day, a cure can be found so that others with the same condition don’t have to go through as much to conquer their allergies.

Now I’m able to eat two peanuts, two walnuts, and two cashews every day with no reaction. What makes it better is that I get to have the nuts with ice cream! I no longer fear the extreme reaction I get from accidental exposures to nuts.

When looking back on everything I have gone through in these past years, the future is brighter than ever. I can make a difference with my art and help others who also have food allergies. Having food allergies isn’t easy, but without art, I would never be able to express the challenges I’ve gone through. I might want to pursue a career related to art or health care, like an allergist or a plastic surgeon. Or I might do something completely different when I grow up, but I’m grateful to know that my food allergies won’t be stopping me from my dreams.

Special thanks to all the doctors and staff at the Sean N. Parker Center for Allergy and Asthma Research at Stanford University for being so caring and helping me through this experience.

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