NEW MADRID COUNTY, Mo. (KFVS) - As we navigate through uncertain times, sometimes life is all about perspective.
“She came into this world fighting,” said Jason Redden.
When Lizzie Redden was born 16 years ago she gave everyone quite the scare.
“Twelve hours later she was on a helicopter and right about Ste. Genevieve she quit breathing and actually died,” said Jason Redden, Lizzie’s dad.
At that time, Lizzie’s parents say she was suffering from a collapsed lung and thyroid condition.
Three years later she had an allergic reaction that caused her to stop breathing a second time.
“By the age of three she basically died twice already,” said Jason Redden.
Today, Lizzie is a typical teenager.
She’s 16 years old, and will tell you it won’t be long before she turns 17.
Most things about her are pretty typical.
She talks often about her boyfriend, her friends and of course her phone.
However, her life has been full of surprises...and not always the good kind.
“It’s been literally insane, it’s been like a rollercoaster,” said Lizzie Redden.
After her health scares as a baby and a pre-schooler, her life had started to calm down.
That was until July 25, 2018.
“I saw dad run into the room and smoke filled it, he was like get out...the house is on fire,” said Lizzie.
They lost everything in their home in New Madrid, and nearly lost Lizzie, again.
“It [the fire] happened right above my room so if I would have been in my room, it would have exploded right on top of me,” said Lizzie.
She made it out, just in time.
While still recovering from that loss, Lizzie’s health started to decline.
“It started with one knee, and then it went to my other knee being swollen,” said Lizzie. “Then it went to my ankles to all my fingers and all my toes. It was the most painful thing ever,” said Lizzie.
She said all of her joints were swollen, and she could barely walk.
“Her body was changing right in front of our eyes, she got down to 107 pounds,” said Jason Redden.
Doctors diagnosed her with polyarticular juvenile idiopathic arthritis (PJIA), a rare form of juvenile arthritis
“Pretty much my immune system is overactive, so my immune system is attacking all my joints, all the good stuff instead of attacking the bad stuff,” said Lizzie Redden.
Which means she has to take medications, including chemo, to lower her immune system.
“You realize you’re injecting poison into your daughter, and that’s pretty tough,” said Jason Redden.
When the pandemic hit, Lizzie’s parents couldn’t take any chances and did everything they could to protect her from the outside world.
“It’s scary as a parent knowing there’s a disease out there that can take your child away because literally her immune system is not working,” said Jason Redden. “It would be difficult for her to survive this virus.”
However, they believe they will get through this, just like they’ve gotten through every other challenge.
“You live in fear, but you turn it into faith...that’s what we do,” said Jason Redden.
“You have to take it one day at a time,” said Lizzie Redden.
Her days are now spent at home 24/7.
She’s not really sad about missing school, except for one thing.
“Oh my gosh I hope we have prom,” said Lizzie.
Lizzie is so bummed about the possibility that her prom could be canceled.
For now, it’s just postponed.
She has had her dress since January, and has not stop dreaming about the big day.
On the day prom was supposed to happen, she got an idea.
“I was like, ‘I’m going to take some pictures,’ I don’t know I was really bored,” said Lizzie.
So, she fixed her hair and her make-up, and she put on her fancy dress.
Instead of posing solo, she did a fun photo shoot with her dad.
“We thought it would a fun moment, one of those moments that can be captured as one of those memories we can look back on and smile about during a difficult time,” said Jason Redden. “We can say, ‘hey. remember we had a photo shoot during a pandemic.’”
They’re finding ways to capture new memories, and enjoy time together.
“We have the ability to be bitter or we can be better,” said Jason Redden. “Only you can make that decision and we’ve chosen to be better.”
Lizzie feels the same way.
“If you’re happy and you have a positivity people want to be around, then it shows and you just live a happier life,” said Lizzie Redden.
So, that’s the plan.
Choose joy, each day.
“Don’t borrow tomorrow’s sunshine because the sunshine we have for today is sufficient,” said Jason Redden.