Resident’s Battle with Rare Autoimmune Disease Inspires Community Action

Christ Lutheran Church’s Tammy Schwartz Battling Sjogren’s Syndrome

When an unexpected and devastating illness arrives, the resulting medical bills and stress of treatment are a drain both financially and mentally. At these times, the support of friends, neighbors, and the community make all the difference.

Earlier this year, resident Tammy Schwartz, Director of Christian Education (DCE) at Christ Lutheran Church in Marshfield, was diagnosed with Sjogren’s syndrome. Visit THIS LINK to help Tammy.

Sjogren’s (SHOW-grins) syndrome is an autoimmune disorder in which the immune system mistakenly attacks its body’s own cells and tissues.The immune system first targets the glands that make tears and saliva. But it can also damage other parts of the body, such as joints, thyroid, kidneys, liver, lungs, skin, and nerves.

Scientists aren’t certain why some people develop Sjogren’s syndrome. Certain genes put people at higher risk of the disorder, but it appears that a triggering mechanism — such as infection with a particular virus or strain of bacteria — is a necessary component.

There is no cure. Treatment is focused on managing the pain, a symptom which has made it difficult for Tammy to walk and go about her normal activities. She is currently undergoing a rigorous treatment plan and is making significant progress towards managing her pain. However, the medical bills continue to accumulate, and insurance will not cover enough.

As everyone who knows her will attest, she hates asking for help. After lots of prayer and persuasion, however, Tammy agreed to let her friends set up a page on YouCaring to provide an easy platform for people help her pay for medical bills.

As a DCE, she has been a hardworking, cheerful, and enthusiastic advocate for youth, the church, and the community throughout her career.

“Tammy has been heavily involved in youth activities and is an empathetic mentor and guide to each of her students,” said Pastor Daryn Bahn of Christ Lutheran Church, who has worked with Tammy since 1999. “Any of the youth who have had her in confirmation class, volunteered for Sunday School, gone to her house for her Bible studies, or spent time at LiFest with her will tell you that she has been priceless in their spiritual formation.”

She continues to be an inspiration as she fights for her health. “She is one of the finest people that you will find anywhere, and she has a heart of gold,” said Bahn. “Her faith in Jesus is strong, and her ministry has touched the lives of thousands of people.”

“She’s the most kind-hearted person I know,” said colleague Ardine Swensen. “She’s willing to do almost anything for anyone and does so much for the church. It’s a pleasure to help her.”

Although battling the disease has been draining, Tammy has found strength in her faith. She often shares the story of how, when her dad passed away in February 2015 after a long health battle, she prayed for a sign that he was okay. The morning of his memorial, Tammy went outside in the snow and saw two interlocking hearts at the end of the driveway that had been perfectly formed by wheel tracks. It was snowing and the hearts were gone within a half-hour, but she was able to snap a photo of them.

She had never seen anything like it before. But last week, the hearts reappeared. While worrying about the rising medical costs and how she was going to get through the next few months, Tammy had prayed for strength. Shortly after, her niece, Paige, sent her a photo. Again, there were two interlocking hearts in the snow.

The page can be found via this link for those who wish to help Tammy. Funds raised will go directly towards medical bills.

“She is an amazing sister in Christ to me, and I am proud to be her friend as well as pastor,” said Bahn. “She’s one in a million!”

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