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No, she won’t have cheese with that: One Metro Detroiter’s story of food, FAAN and Saturday’s fund-raising fun

A simple bowl of guacamole changed Shannon Murphy’s life forever. And it was the best and the worst thing to ever happen to the radio personality.

She was in her early 20s when she tasted the spicy dip for the first time. She and a few friends were out together, and someone ordered guac for an appetizer. It was the first time Murphy would try it, and the last.

Why? Turns out she is allergic to avocados. Who knew? Certain not Murphy.

“I had this funny felling in my throat – like it was hard to swallow. I knew something was going on. When I looked in the mirror in the bathroom, all I saw was that my cheeks had swollen so badly that it looked like I had two tennis balls in my mouth,” Murphy said.

This Saturday, Murphy will be walking in FAAN Walk, which benefits the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network. The goal is to raise funds to provide education and advocacy about food allergies in Michigan and beyond. The group also seeks to advance research on behalf of all Americans affected by food allergies and anaphylaxis.

The Grosse Ile native and co-star of the Mojo in the Morning Show on Channel 95.5 FM will serve as the Honorary Chair of the Walk. She does it to show her support for the group, to educate others on the challenges of having adult-onset allergies and how very serious thing whole allergy thing is.

Ready for the list of things Murphy cannot eat or hang out with? Ahem…Dogs, cats, rabbits, horses, hay, mites, ragweed, pollen, trees, grass, Latex, Penicillin, almonds, American cheese, apples, avocados, catfish, dill, onions, oranges, peppers, pork, squash, strawberries, tomatoes, trout and walnuts.

It’s not so bad, skipping the American cheese. But apples? Really?

“People kind of roll their eyes at me when I’m at a restaurant ordering food. I don’t think they believe I have food allergies. I tell them, ‘Let me show you what happens when I eat one of those foods.’ I have the proof on my camera phone,” Murphy laughs, although there is a serious edge to her evidence.

It’s not like she goes crazy over it. No one with food allergies really cares to make a nuscience of themselves. But if you cook onions or peppers in the pan where you’re also going to cook Murphy’s food…and then she eats it…well, things aren’t going to be pretty.

And, yes, she has to ask those kind of questions when she orders food outside of her home. Because you can only have so many reactions to the food you’re allergic to before you have bigger issues (like death, but I digress).

“My doctor says it’s like a bucket. You can have multiple exposures, but eventually that bucket is going to become full. And once it’s full and overflows, you’re going to have a bad allergic reaction,” Murphy said.

The first time she had that avocado? She could physically see her throat closing. She has to carry two epi-pens to counteract any negative reaction she might have to the 20-odd things she is allergic to.

Realistically, Murphy was allergic to these things all along. But at first she might have gotten hives as a reaction. She had lots of time in doctor’s offices, trying to explain what was going on. Diagnosis after diagnosis turned out to be wrong. A simple trip to the allergist explained all.

“For me, I really think that since my allergies have been diagnosed I’m so much confident. I know how to eat and I know how to treat myself,” Murphy said. “If I have an anaphylactic reaction, I know my pen buys her 10 minutes of time to get to a hospital. … If not for that guacamole, I wouldn’t know what was happening. Now, I’m just so much more educated about it and I feel comfortable eating out.”

Her first FAAN walk was a reveleation, Murphy said. Here she was, surrounded by people who all had the same issues she did. She even met her current allergist there – a match made in heaven.

“It’s a party for people with allergies. You feel so accepted and understood,” Murphy said.

And don’t we all want that?

The 7th Annual FAAN Walk for Food Allergy to educate the community and help find a cure to protect people with life-threatening food allergies will take place Saturday. Registration starts at 9 a.m. and the walk follows at 10 a.m. at Dunckel Middle School, located at 32800 West Twelve Mile Road in Farmington Hills.To sign up for the Michigan walk, please go towww.foodallergywalk.org. For more information, email DetroitChair@FoodAllergy.org

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