Teacher maintains busy lifestyle despite illness

Mike Layher, Assistant Web Editor-in-Chief

The Allegiance Radiation Oncology Center in downtown Jackson is not a typical destination to receive regular medical treatment, especially for somebody who is not battling cancer.

In 2008, Communication Arts teacher Miss Marnie Hade was diagnosed with neutropenia, an autoimmune condition where the body does not produce an important white blood cell called a neutrophil.

This illness generally impacts children who are born without immune systems, cancer patients whose immune systems are destroyed after going through chemotherapy or radiation, and “one-in-a-million” people like Hade.

“It’s like a light switch goes off in your body and your bone marrow stops making white blood cells that combat illnesses in your body,” said Hade.

Before being diagnosed, doctors spent close to a year and a half trying to figure out what was inflicting Hade. First thoughts went to leukemia, lupus, and other autoimmune disorders.

Around this time, Hade also had a rapidly growing tumor in her jaw as a product of her next-to-nothing white blood cell count due to the unknown illness.

During the removal process, a few cells were accidentally missed by an oral surgeon. The tumor grew back quickly and forced the doctors to remove part of Hade’s back jaw to the point where no false teeth can be implanted.

“I’m sort of this funky case study at the doctor’s office because of all of my autoimmune issues,” said Hade. “I’ve been going there since 2008, so my file is literally inches thick.”

In addition to neutropenia, Hade is also afflicted by another autoimmune illness called vitiligo, which causes random parts of her skin to lose their pigmentation.

It started with a small dot and will continue to spread as time goes on. The areas mainly affected for Hade are her hands, face, and elbows.

“It’s kind of funny when people go, ‘hey, you’ve got something right there’ and I just say ‘no, that’s just what’s left over of my pigment, thank you,’” said Hade.
Despite the change to her physical appearance, Hade does not let it impact her self esteem. She has been very accepting of how both illnesses are part of her personality now.

“When my godchildren were little, they would say ‘ouch’ because it looks like I’m a burn victim,” said Hade. “Vitiligo on your hands can literally look like burn marks.”

Doctors have advised against Hade’s teaching career and volunteering on Give Hope trips due to the number of germs and level of stress included in both. Despite these warnings, Hade continues her normal, yet busy lifestyle with the occasional nap to keep her going.

“[My doctors] tried to convince me to do this light therapy for my vitiligo where I would stick my hands under an ultraviolet light to help my pigment cells rise,” said Hade. “You’re supposed to do it every day for a minute and the duration increases over time. Why would I spend my life doing that? I don’t care enough about my vitiligo to do that.”

Between having no conference period during the day, her dedication to various service projects, and the countless hours she spends after school, Hade refuses to slow down for even a minute.

“Well, that’s me,” said Hade. “If there is anything in the world that is me in a nutshell, I guess there really is no such thing. It’s more like 18 nutshells.”

Hade HandsMike Layher
Hade Hands 2Mike Layher