Meet Mighty Model, Shannon Maguire: Gastroparesis Warrior

by Allie Cashel
Meet Mighty Model, Shannon Maguire: Gastroparesis Warrior

At Mighty Well, every one of our models has had personal-lived experience with chronic illness. By sharing their stories, we hope you will see how each and every Mighty Model is working to turn their sickness into strength.

Today, we are excited to feature the story of Shannon Maguire: Mighty Model and Gatroparesis warrior, who has not let her illness slow her down.

Here are a few highlights from Shannon’s story…

I’ve learned to trust my instincts and my truth.

Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

My name is Shannon, I am a 26 year old public health student with a concentration in case management. I’ve lived in Boston all my life, with the exception of attending nursing school at the University of Maine in Orono, Maine!

Can you tell us about your experience as a patient?

I have a chronic illness called Gastroparesis, which is a disease that causes your stomach to function improperly – it’s basically paralysis of the stomach. Unlike a normal stomach that will contract to move whatever is put in it, mine does not. My stomach lets whatever goes in it to just sit, causing me to have horrible stomach pain and throw up, as well as other GI symptoms.

I was diagnosed at 16. One year later, I was also diagnosed with dysmotility of the small intestine and pseudo obstruction disorder. Even though my diagnosis came later in life, I’ve had the disease since birth. I’ve always been sick, but my symptoms have gotten worse with age. I had my first feeding tube at 13 years old due to my illness and I’ve had different types ever since then.

This year marks that for half of my life now, I’ve had a feeding tube. A very hard effect of Gastroparesis is that you can’t eat. I can have bread, small amount of grilled chicken, clear liquids and some other things but my diet is extremely limited and the majority of my nutrition comes from tube feeds. I’ve had multiple lines as well from PICCs to tunneled chest lines to finally a port.

Do you think your experience with illness has given you strength?

I think anyone who has a chronic illness gains strength from their experience with chronic illness, even if they believe it is only internal strength. It’s very hard to feel you’re different from the world in a way that can’t always be seen or measured. We all have to overcome that.

Growing up I was constantly told I wasn’t sick and that whatever was going on was somehow in my head, and not just by my parents, but also by my doctors. It’s incredibly hard feel like there is no one on your side and to feel no one believes you when you know they’re wrong.

I think there is a particular kind of strength that comes from that experience. I’ve learned to trust my instincts and my truth. And thankfully with that strength, I was able to find a doctor who was able to really help until he found that cause. I think chronic illness also brings you strength in other ways because it gives you a perspective on things that not everyone has. Chronic illness also gives you experiences that, while sometimes unpleasant, help shape you. I’ve never met anyone will a chronic illness who isn’t a strong person.

What was it like to model for Mighty Well?

Modeling for Mighty Well is fun! You get to meet other amazing models who have their own amazing stories to share and who always seem to be instantly supportive and want to help you if they can. Another great thing about modeling for Mighty Well is sometimes you get lucky enough to give your feedback on items they are testing, which makes it even more exciting. Mighty Well feels like a family and that is the best part about it. 

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