TRENTON — To help raise awareness about Sarcoidosis, a systemic inflammatory disease that affects the organs, Assemblywoman Alison Littell McHose and Assemblyman Parker Space sponsored legislation designating April of each year as "Sarcoidosis Awareness Month.”
The resolution received approval from the Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee on Monday, Jan. 12.
Sarcoidosis and cancer may mimic one another, making the distinction difficult. Its cause is unknown and there is currently no cure.
“Since Sarcoidosis is so difficult to properly diagnosis because of its various symptoms and similarities to cancer, it’s important that we educate the public and increase the understanding of this disease between its victims, the medical profession and the citizens of New Jersey,” said McHose, R-Sussex, Warren and Morris. “Individuals who suffer from the disease need and deserve our support. This designation will help heighten public awareness about this neglected, chronic and disabling disease.”
McHose was made aware of the disease from one of her constituents, Nancy Tornillo-Harris, who is in the process of establishing a Sarcoidosis support group in Northwest Jersey.
“Experiencing symptoms of a disease, but not having a firm diagnosis is very frustrating,” said Space, R-Sussex, Warren and Morris. “That’s why education is one of our best weapons against Sarcoidosis. This designation will hopefully serve as a springboard to a broader awareness of this debilitating disease.”
Sandra Conroy, president and founder of the National Sarcoidosis Resource Center, said diagnosis is often difficult, which adds to the frustration of those who are experiencing symptoms.
"Sarcoidosis is often mistaken for other diseases, such as multiple sclerosis, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, cancer, and tuberculosis," Conroy said. "There are thousands of people in New Jersey that are living with Sarcoidosis and support from Assemblywoman McHose and Assemblyman Space means so much."
Sarcoidosis most commonly affects young adults of both sexes, although studies have reported more cases in females. Common symptoms are vague, such as fatigue unchanged by sleep, lack of energy, weight loss, aches and pains, arthritis, dry eyes, swelling of the knees, blurry vision, shortness of breath, a dry hacking cough or skin lesions.
For more information on the Northwest Jersey Sarcoidosis Support Group, contact Tornillo-Harris at 973-827-5518.