We in the allergy community ache when one of our own is taken from us. Most of the time we don’t know the person we’ve lost, but that doesn’t stop us from catching our breath and swallowing hard just the same.
Thanks to the recent American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology conference in Houston, food allergies have made headlines regularly in the past few of weeks. This is my favorite kind of coverage. It means more people have the opportunity to learn more about a medical condition that is vastly misunderstood, though millions live with it daily.
The news we received today is the kind of news none of us likes to see in the headlines. We want awareness, yes, but never at the expense of another precious life. [Update: While initial reports stated Ben had suffered an allergic reaction to peanuts, new reports show he may have suffered heart failure. It does not make this sudden loss any less painful.]
Processing the news of another loss, like that of Ben Stanton, is something that we do both individually and as a community. It has us talking with our kids about appropriate actions in case of reaction. It has us giving our children a tighter hug, holding on for a few seconds longer than they might like. It pulls us together as a community, tightening our already tight-knit bond.
Because of this, we can recite the names of those sweet lives snuffed out too soon. In our circles, we know them by first name. Much like the general public knows Beyoncé, Ellen, Kanye, and Jay-Z. We know Natalie, Giovanni, Joey, and so many more.
We pay tribute to those we’ve lost, and to their families. We strengthen our resolve to do our part to advance research for treatment, prevention, and to find the cause of these allergies.
Rest in peace, Ben. Our hearts are with your family tonight and in the weeks to come.