WARSAW, Ind. (WFFT) - Katherine Alderfer says she can do more activities during the colder months of the year.
"I get to stay outside longer and spend more time with my sister," said 14-year-old Alderfer.
Katherine has juvenile dermatomyositis, an autoimmune inflammatory disease of the muscles, skin, and blood vessels, making it difficult for her to function while exposed to sunlight.
Maintaining her health has also been difficult.
“She said I’m sorry to tell you, but there’s a major shortage of this, and we don’t know that your daughter will get her life-saving medication,” said Kristine Alderfer, Katherine's mother.
Katherine's doctor told her mother these words just two years ago when they experienced the first shortage of intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG), a blood product for which Katherine travels to Riley Hospital in Indianapolis every three to four weeks to receive infusions.
Now they anticipate another shortage early next year.
Katherine, a student at Lakeland Christian Academy, says switching to at-home learning for a brief period after Halloween was only supposed to last for two weeks until her father tested positive for COVID-19.
“We didn’t see anybody or talk to anybody, and definitely kept texting him and calling him, socially distancing of course,” said Katherine.
Katherine's mother says the Thanksgiving holiday, her favorite holiday, was difficult because of the social distance, but the family maintained their bond through FaceTime and food deliveries.
Katherine says she was fearful of the virus coming so close to her home because of her condition, but mostly because of her family's health.
She says there are still ways for young people to manage their own autoimmune diseases through a pandemic, like those she encourages to become a Riley Champion at the hospital she's attended for over a decade.
Katherine says, "Make sure you are showing people how to be kind and how to live with it so they can also show other people ...and you can have an overall better life.”