Teens in the Real World
  Food Allergies in the Real World  

Thinking Back, Looking Forward


Rebecca and Anne won FAAN’s college scholarships this year. Below, you can read some quotes from them for a glimpse into their lives and their future.


“Everyone at some point in time faces problems, but the only way to overcome a difficult situation is to maintain a positive attitude and be strong. Without my allergy, I would never have discovered my inner strength and the power I have to make a positive impact on the world.

“One summer, I worked as a camp counselor. I was in charge of an allergy-safe group and always read ingredients, answered questions, and made the children feel comfortable. After realizing that there are so many people like myself who have food allergies, I discovered my inner strength and became more secure with my situation. If everyone with allergies was always afraid of dying, the world would never progress. I decided to shift my focus and think in a positive manner, to benefit myself and society.

“To this day, I continue to be a counselor and help children with allergies during the summer. Recently, I participated in a FAAN Walk to raise money and spoke at an antibullying seminar for a local elementary school. My allergy has shaped my personality, making me a kind, brave, and confident person who always helps and respects others. I have this inner strength that allows me to make a difference in the world and help people in need. Despite my severe allergy, I know that I can do anything I set my mind to and that I’m in full control of my life.” ~ Anne, age 17. Allergic to peanut, tree nuts, and soy. Attending Binghamton University in the fall.


“Let me describe my reality. Recently, I innocently ordered a salad with my favorite dressing. My parents and I asked the waiter about the ingredients and reiterated the importance of knowing exactly what was in the food. After the waiter checked with a chef, we were assured the dressing was safe. As it turned out, it contained hazelnuts, one of my most significant allergies. As my lips began to swell and my breathing became difficult, my mom reached for the Benadryl and also injected epinephrine to try to abort the reaction. Fortunately, the drugs worked, and I am here to tell this story. This is my reality.

“I have spent a significant portion of my life trying to keep myself safe, but I have learned from my own experiences how to help others cope. Through my local fire department, I have been certified in first aid and CPR. For the last several years, I have volunteered my time with the fire department to help staff a first aid tent at community events. This work has permitted me to serve as a community resource but, more importantly, has helped me to grow personally.

“Although having food allergies is life-threatening, I have not permitted this to stifle my day-to-day living. I have been fortunate enough to have the opportunity to travel around the world with my family. By traveling, I have gained a greater appreciation and understanding of cultures – and foods – different from my own. My philosophy regarding living with allergies can be best summed up by the original motto of the Peace Corps: ‘not to change the world, but not to leave it the same.’” ~ Rebecca, age 17. Allergic to tree nuts and eggs. Attending the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the fall.
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