My name is Kate and I met the love of my life 5 years ago online when we became good friends. He's American and I am Irish, so in the summer of 2014 I decided to go visit him to see if there was anything more (and, seeing as I was struggling with university, I took it as a welcome break from reality). What I wasn't expecting was to meet my soulmate. I never gave the idea of soulmates much thought until then but it genuinely felt like I was living with half of a soul until I met him. He's everything you could want and hope for in a partner: kind, caring, affectionate, loving, protective, funny, handsome, the list goes on. After I came home after 6 weeks together, we decided to commit to one another and we have visited each other as often as we could over the last 4 years.
Last January, we decided that we wanted to get married, and we wanted to end this separation. We started the K-1 fiance visa so that I could move to America to start our lives together. It was a long process, during which he came here where he proposed and we celebrated our engagement together. This was at the end of June. Life was looking good, the wait was almost over.
In his last week of holiday, I felt very unwell. I was very short of breath walking and, on one night, had swelling on both my feet. I ended up in hospital where it was discovered that I had 2-3 litres of fluid on my right lung. I was kept in hospital for 10 or so days while the doctors scrambled to find the cause while I stayed in hospital scared and unsure what was in store. Unfortunately, my new fiance had to go home before we had answers and while I was still sick.
After doing a medical history with me, doctors diagnosed me with Chylothorax which is a symptom of a rare lung disease called Lymphangioleiomyomatosis (LAM for short). It affects the lungs's ability to expand and contract, and therefore increases the difficulty in breathing over time as the cysts in the lungs grow. I was told it was a life-long progressive disease but is manageable. They drained my lung and sent me home. I took this in my stride and believed it to be a once off, that I was a mild case, and that I'd be living healthily in America with my fiance soon.
Nearing the end of 2017 and the end of the visa process, we were advised to wait until February 2018, by our American immigration lawyer, before submitting the final documentation to show tax certs. Unfortunately, since February my health took a turn. I was admitted to hospital 3 times over a 2 month period with a fluid filled lung (1st time it was 3 litres filled, 2nd time it was 6 litres filled (the junior doctors actually were frightened about the amount I was carrying), and the 3rd time was 2 litres filled along with a partial lung collapse).
All of this took a huge toll on my body and my mind. I lost so much weight and muscle mass as my stomach was being squashed by the fluid filled lung, so even when I felt full I really wasn't. I usually am an independent person and these knocks affected me mentally. It scared me to think that this is my reality now, that more of this episodes are likely, and that my lungs could slowly fail me resulting in a single or double lung transplant.
As if this wasn't all enough to try to come to terms with, I found out that my lungs weren't bringing in enough oxygen to my body and it was putting stress on my heart and other organs. I needed to go on supplemental oxygen therapy. This is definitely not the news anyone wants to hear, let alone a 26 year old waiting to start her life with her beloved.
I've always been good at escaping and ignoring my reality, but when you have to wear a 10 pound oxygen concentrator on your back and a nose cannula when you go anywhere, it's impossible to ignore it. My health isn't great at the minute and I hope (and pray) that this is only a bad patch and I will continue to improve so I can live my life. If it is not meant to be, then I want to be able to enjoy my good years making memories with my (soon-to-be) husband as soon as possible. I've spent so much of my adult life waiting for my life to begin. Waiting for university to be over. Waiting for my fiance to visit. Waiting for me to move to America. Waiting for our lives together to begin. I don't want to have to wait any longer. Please help us.
What I am asking for (and hoping for) is your help in paying for the cost of an Irish immigration lawyer so my fiance can come here to live permanently and we can begin our lives together. We are both saving all that we can but I am unable to work at the minute so I'm reaching out to you in the hopes you can help with the legal fees. That's it. If we could get help with a lawyer, it would speed up the time apart so so much.
Any money raised here that isn't spent on a lawyer will be donated to the LAM Foundation, I promise you that. They are a charity that supports scientists and doctors in finding better treatments and, hopefully, a cure for LAM. I wouldn't deny any help towards a cure for myself nor any of my 'Lammie' sisters.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read this.
- Thomas Hennessy
- Anita Ryan
- Eva Miller
- Paul Breen
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