I want to start off by giving you a quick background on what Stevens-Johnson Syndrome is. It’s a rare, but serious skin disorder where mucous membranes react severely to a medication or infection. It begins as flu symptoms with a painful red rash, blisters, and causes the skin to shed.
Our Woman of the Month for November is Rhonda Benson who suffered from this skin disorder. Hopefully, reading her story will make you realize that no matter what you are going through in life, you CAN and WILL overcome it.
In November of 1989 Rhonda wasn’t feeling well. She had a sore throat and a cold, so she did what any other person would do, take some medicine. Few days later she went to the doctors and was prescribed amoxicillan. She took it a few hours later then went to sleep. Some people can be allergic to amoxicillan, Rhonda was but she didn’t know until it was too late. The next day she woke up with red bumps all over her body. Rhonda was taken to the hospital where she really wasn’t getting the help she needed. Her body started to blister and her lips started to split and she still wasn’t seen. Rhonda ended up being in the hospital in the Intensive Care Unit. Her skin was burning and began to shed. After about eight days a dermatologist took one look at Rhonda and immediately made arrangements to get her out of Zurbruug Memorial Hospital and over to St. Agnes Burn Center. Her body was dipped in oils and wrapped in pig skin and silver nitrate. She was then laying in an ice bed with a fever as Rhonda stayed in Agnes Burn Center for over 30 days. Over time 90% of Rhonda’s body was burned from the inside out. She lost fingernails, toe nails, her hair, her throat closed up, and eye lids. She had over 100 surgeries to reopen her eyes, ears, throat, and other areas throughout her body.
In November of 1993, Rhonda was able to open her eyes to see, for the very first time since 1989. During the operation, doctors had let Rhonda see her son, who she had not seen in four years, including her mother. That right there was a joyous moment for her. She was so excited to finally see everyone around her that she did not go to sleep that night.
People are always asking why do bad things happen to good people? Try not to question why things happen. Ask how are you going to overcome this obstacle. It’s easy to give up on others and yourself. It’s hard to keep a positive attitude and continue to live your life no matter how much it has changed. Rhonda had a tough four years. She is a woman who loves to sing in church and dance. A great, and kind mother, who didn’t give up on being a parent and being there for her son.
“I still have hopes and dreams to publish a book, model jeans or sunglass ads. I’m 42 now and people say I still got it! I am singing again on the church choir. I’m on the usher board. It has been a huge adjustment for me and my son. My son has finished school, he’s working; he has his own apartment. I’m not sharing my story for anyone to feel sorry for me. I just want people to know you can overcome obstacles in your life. I have a story that I need to tell.” – Rhonda
This is why Rhonda Benson is November’s Woman of the Month <3
Written by: Jazy F.
Rhonda Having Fun with her Granddaughter
Rhonda Benson on her wedding day
Rhonda Benson With her Son Jahrelle back in the day