Community raising awareness for Englewood teacher with rare disease

Writer: Jack Lowenstein
Published: Updated:
Credit: WINK News.

There is a rare disease that can strike anyone without warning, and one local teacher and mother in Sarasota County just got the alarming wake-up call. We got to see how other teachers and the community are rallying around her to find a cure.

Lauren Hanrahan teaches at Englewood Elementary School, and she is living with NF2 or Neurofibromatosis type 2. This is a genetic disorder that leads to benign tumors.

“My world just kind of stopped at that moment,” Hanrahan said. “It’s a horrible thing to have to live with.”

She already has a tumor in her left ear, which is affecting her hearing.

“If hearing started to go in my right ear, that would be very hard to work with,” Hanrahan said. She’s now a volunteer with NF2 BioSolutions, one nonprofit working to find a cure.

Losing her hearing would make her job in the classroom nearly impossible if that happened. So her colleague, Stephanie Ham, stepped up to help raise awareness awareness and find a cure, too.

“It broke my heart for her,” Ham said.

Ham posted a video to her Facebook page. So far, it’s been viewed about 14,000 times.

“I am looking for an outlet or ways to really educate people,” Ham said.

Ham is hoping her video will reach Ellen DeGeneres to raise even more awareness. And she’s not alone.

Kelts is with the Children’s Tumor Foundation, which is a different group working to find a cure for NF disorders.

“It does not discriminate based on gender, ethnicity, where in the world you live,” Kelts said.

Meanwhile, scientists from Cincinnati recently published research showing a better understanding of the proteins that affect the disease. This will hopefully pave a path toward treatment and preventing patients from losing their hearing.

Hanrahan is still able to teach. She’s worried about her children because NF2 is genetic. There is a 50/50 chance either of them could have the disorder too.

“The last thing I want to hear if I lose my hearing would be my children and them telling me ‘I love you,’” Hanrahan said.

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