FORMER Rockhampton girl Rebecca Patterson has been to hell and back.
The now 20-year-old Ayr local began struggling with Mitochondrial Disease (Mito) since April 2016.
At an age when you’re supposed to be having fun, Rebecca endured countless hospital visits.
The former Rockhampton local first noticed she was ill one morning after waking up with shortness of breath and chronic pain in her stomach.
“A week later, I progressively got worse,” she said.
Mitochondria are the power houses of the cell providing the body with over 90 per cent of the energy it needs to sustain life.
Mito is a debilitating and potentially fatal disease, as it reduces the ability of mitochondria to produce energy in the body.
The former Rockhampton local said the wait for her proper diagnosis was gruelling.
“I had gone to the doctor continuously, they told me it was my heart,” she said.
She was constantly treated at Royal Brisbane Hospital for minor heart attacks before being referred to a heart and lung specialist, Dr Fiene.
It was Dr Fiene who would persist and find a diagnosis.
After many tests, Rebecca and her family were finally found a degree of closure.
Rebecca said her mother found it extremely hard to cope with her daughter’s illness.
“She sat up for the first two nights, didn’t sleep for 48 hours,” she said.
Rebecca said the illness hugely impacts her body.
“It limits a lot of what I do,” she said.
“On a daily basis, I sleep for six to eight hours.”
One of Rebecca’s main struggles on a daily basis is fatigue.
She shared her advice for fellow sufferers of the disease.
“Manage it as best as you can; listen to your body,” she said.
“If you are falling asleep, go and lay down and have a sleep…your body does thank you for it”
“That was when the disease and everything really hit me hard was when he told me I had twelve months to live,” she said.
Rebecca found that period of time to be the hardest.
“I found myself spiralling downhill further and further because I was so negative on it,” she said.
Rebecca has found positive thinking to change her perspective on the illness.
“My attitude just turned to positive…keeping positive is key,” she said.