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The Lookout | April 18, 2021

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Despite disease, student has lofty goals

Despite disease, student has lofty goals
  • On February 14, 2020

By Chloe Gregg
Staff Writer

LCC student Shannon Keizer is a hardworking pre-nursing student, as well as an activist for her incredibly rare genetic disease, cystinosis.

“(Cystinosis) only affects 600 people in the United States, so it’s super rare,” the 30-year-old Keizer said. “(Essentially,) I have a buildup of the amino acid cystine inside my cells, which causes cystine crystals and damages different organs in my body. It’s actually in every cell, so it could potentially damage every organ, but it starts with the kidney and the bones.”

Even though Keizer has gone through multiple surgeries and procedures, and although her kidneys are only functioning at 22 percent, she maintains a positive attitude. She said she remains hopeful for her future and the future of cystinosis and its cure.

When she’s not dealing with medical issues or fundraising for the cure, Keizer attends a pre-nursing program at LCC and aspires to help people in any way she can, for as long as she can.

The assistant professor of Keizer’s human anatomy class, Dr. Jennifer Dery, said she is impressed with Keizer’s continuous hard work and due diligence. She was impressed so much that she contacted The Lookout about doing a student feature.

“I passed along her name because she is an incredible person and was an excellent student,” Dery said. “Her love for learning and positive attitude were refreshing.

“She is an inspiration to not let challenges, medical or otherwise, stop you from pursuing and achieving your goals. It’s also impressive; her work on a national level to help support those searching for a cure for cystinosis.”

Keizer plans on continuing her education at LCC for nursing and advocating for those who are affected by cystinosis.

“I kind of have two passions,” Keizer explained. “My one passion is nursing and actually taking care of people.

“… Another passion is my speaking and being an advocate (for cystinosis). So, my goal is that I can get into a place where I can do both, maybe do part-time nursing, part-time speaking.”