Picture the last time you had an allergic reaction—to pollen, peanuts, whatever it may be. Recall how irritated you were by the endless sneezing and coughing or how scared you felt when a crazy rash formed on your skin and you couldn’t breathe properly. Now, imagine the symptoms of your worst allergic reaction multiplied by 1,000: That’s the state Johanna Watkins lives in every hour of every day.
Johanna was diagnosed with mast cell activation syndrome—a rare immunological condition in which mast cells excessively release chemical mediators, resulting in severe allergic reactions,
The only people Johanna’s body’s tolerates are her closest genetic relatives—her siblings, That’s right: Not even her parents or her husband can be near her without making her ill.
Johanna can only eat 15 foods. They still make her ill, but they won’t kill her. As if things couldn’t get more painful, she recently started to “develop allergic reactions to the natural chemicals and body odors that people release,” according to the couple’s GoFundMe page.
Chemotherapy wasn’t enough to heal Johanna, and the couple is still looking for cure that will free her from the confines of her body. Despite the lack of effective treatment, Scott and Johanna do their best to find happiness, despite the circumstances.
“We have joy in our days,” he says. “There’s sadness, too, but we move on.”