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Teen endures Fibromyalgia, creates awareness bracelet business
Saturday 4 August 2012
Teen Endures Fibromyalgia, Creates Awareness Bracelet Business
A fibromyalgia diagnosis changed Jenna Rice's ability to play flute, but it couldn't stop her love for helping and connecting with others.
Edgewater’s Jenna Rice spent hours as a child practicing her flute and piccolo, hoping to one day study at a major university and become an expert in her craft.
But at the pinnacle of her high school career, her dreams hit a road bump when doctors diagnosed her with fibromyalgia in the middle of her senior year—an incurable and debilitating neurological pain disorder.
Afternoons and weekends that were once consumed with flute practice were halted to laying in bed and “wasting away” in front of a television—unable to do any physical activity for more than a few minutes.
Prior to the diagnosis, Rice and her family suffered for nearly two years before finally learning the cause of her pain. But since then, the 19-year-old from Loch Haven isn’t just living with the disease, she’s thriving.
Dealing with the Disease
“With fibromyalgia, it doesn’t get better, but you get better living with it or living around it,” Rice said.
Rice, who will head to the University of North Carolina School of the Arts this fall, can now only practice her flute and piccolo for about 20 minutes at a time before taking an hour-long break. The pain escalates too much when she tries to play longer, Rice said.
During breaks in between practicing, the South River High grad developed a new hobby that benefits herself and others fighting chronic illnesses—she makes awareness bracelets, sells them and donates the proceeds to various organizations.
“It’s all been really exciting. When you have a chronic illness, most people don’t understand what it’s like,” Rice said. “Connecting with people that are all over the world that know what it’s like, it’s pretty cool.”
Rice has created bracelets for people battling cancer, fibromyalgia and several other chronic illnesses from countries such as Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom. The local teen creates each bracelet at her home, usually from her own bedroom for a low cost of $2.50 and 75 cents for shipping.
'It's All About Awareness'
“It’s all about the awareness and the different colors you can get to raise awareness,” Rice said. “Each $100 [I earn] goes to a different awareness.”
The bracelets, made from twine in different colors to represent various illnesses, each have a silver ribbon charm that says “Hope.” Rice said she’s gotten very good at making the bracelets and that it’s a great way to fill the time between practicing and getting ready for college.
Pam Rice, Jenna’s mother, said it’s been a long but fruitful journey for her daughter.
“It was difficult. [Jenna] was 16 or 17 years old and not able to do anything. Even now she can’t go to the mall with her friends,” Pam Rice said. “[Making bracelets] is a really good thing. I think it gets her mind off the pain—I think art does that with people, especially something you can make.”
Rice said she hopes to continue making bracelets in college but admits things may slow down once she picks up a full course load and balances flute and piccolo practice.
Rice took her long-lasting afternoons of Netflix and turned them into a spirit-lifting organization that connects her with people all over the world. Something that, as a flute player, Rice said she has always wanted.
To get involved with Jenna Rice's bracelets or purchase some yourself, visit her Tumblr page.
Do you know Jenna Rice? Are you interested in one of her bracelets? Let her know in the comments.
The above, with comments and more photos, originally appeared here.
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