"I Have Learned That It Only Takes One Individual to Start Making a Difference in the World"
"If I could share one thing with others, that would be to get involved. Being a voice for your community and yourself is what changes and improves lives for everyone." Joseph M. LaRochelle, a Clinical Assistant Professor at Xavier University of Louisiana College of Pharmacy, has severe food allergies and is visibly committed to having a positive affect on the lives of those who have food allergies. He has been involved with the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN) for over 10 years, working with teens who are living with food allergies, presenting at conferences, and testifying before legislators at the state and local level.
"I [have had] many allergic reactions throughout my life, most requiring emergency medical attention. Eating out at a restaurant, going to college, moving away from home, and living a normal life seemed impossible. It seems odd that just one bite of a piece of food can bring someone so close to death. That concept is not one that anyone can easily adjust to. The fear of death, if I am not careful and prepared, has made me appreciate life and its struggles. Food allergies are a part of my life, but they do not define me. I have used the disability to enable me to get where I am today."
Joseph was nominated by FAAN to participate in the peer review of research proposals focused on food allergies. He served as a consumer reviewer during the scientific peer review of applications for the fiscal year 2009 Genetic Studies of Food Allergies Research Program. "Overall the experience was a great opportunity. It allowed me to sit at the table amongst great scientists and share my thoughts on the [potential] impact of various research proposals. These scientists have dedicated their lives to this disease, and are committed to researching the answers to the questions we are all asking. Involving consumers in the review process shows an even higher level of dedication on the part of the scientific community."
"Living with food allergies can be a challenging adventure [and it]... changes your perspective. [However,] I realized that one person can truly make a difference and that I was not alone in my life challenges."