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home : news : local   May 24, 2016

4/13/2014 12:23:00 PM
39-year-old faces rare disorder, plans 5K benefit

NewsTribune photo/Chris YucusTabitha Peters’ T-shirt says #NeverGiveUp, the name of her team raising funds for the 5K walk-run April 19 at Baker Lake, Peru to support patients with Syringomyelia. The La Salle woman, shown here at Baker Lake, was diagnosed with the rare spinal disorder last fall.
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NewsTribune photo/Chris Yucus
Tabitha Peters’ T-shirt says #NeverGiveUp, the name of her team raising funds for the 5K walk-run April 19 at Baker Lake, Peru to support patients with Syringomyelia. The La Salle woman, shown here at Baker Lake, was diagnosed with the rare spinal disorder last fall.
If you go:

What: Syringo 5K walk-run and Kids LolliPop walk-run.
When: Saturday, April 19.
Where: Baker Lake, 2700 Airport Road, Peru.
Proceeds benefit: American Syringomyelia & Chiari Alliance Project, which promotes research, education and support. Supporters have raised $2,050 so far and their goal is $5,000.
Registration, times, fees: Sryingo 5K walk-run: Registration at 9:30 a.m., walk-run at 11 a.m., $40 per adult or $30 if registered at
Kids LolliPop walk-run: Registration at 9:15 a.m., walk-run at 9:45 a.m., children 11 and under, $10 per child.
Fun: Prizes for largest team, team and individual who raises the most money and best team T-shirt/costume. There will be refreshments, kid games, music, bake sale, DJ, silent auction, food and vendors. Prizes include a fishing trip and trip to Africa. More than 20 businesses are sponsoring the event.
Join anyway: People who don’t want to walk or run are invited to support the cause.
For information, email

Jeff Dankert
NewsTribune Reporter

Meet Tabitha Peters. You’ll find a cheery 39-year-old woman from La Salle seemingly free of health problems.

But Peters lives with pain every day. She has Syringomyelia, a rare spinal disorder. To create awareness of this disorder, Peters teamed up with the Peru Police Association to organize a 5K walk-run April 19 at Baker Lake, Peru.

Syringomyelia is caused when a syrinx, or cavity, forms in the spinal cord, damaging nerves and function. It has no cure. Peters knows of one other person in the area, a fifth-grade girl, with Syringomyelia. But the girl has so far not experienced symptoms, Peters said.

Peters has suffered symptoms more than a decade but has known for only five months that she has Syringomyelia.

“I was diagnosed with this in November after 14 years of misdiagnosis because so few doctors know of this,” she said.

Prior to diagnosis Peters experienced back pain along with numbing and tingling in her hands and feet. She was in and out of hospitals. One doctor misdiagnosed it as fibromyalgia. Some mistakenly thought she had multiple sclerosis. Last fall, a doctor and radiologist at Illinois Valley Community Hospital, Peru, correctly diagnosed it from an MRI scan, Peters said.

She is now seeing a neurosurgeon in Chicago. Absent a cure, pain relief is the only treatment.

“As of right now I’m just on medication to block nerve pain,” Peters said.

Overexertion causes Peters’ muscles to shake. Fatigue comes with the slightest effort, she said.

“Progressively, you can no longer do the things you want to do,” she said. “I’m very much into the outdoors, hiking and walking. Just a simple trip to the mall, everything now, I have to think ‘can I do it?’”

Grocery shopping is a major undertaking.

“For 5 to 6 hours afterward, I can barely function,” she said.

Peters operates a home daycare and works as a crossing guard. Her condition is not apparent to others and Peters does her best to keep it that way.

“I think over time you just learn to cope and smile,” she said.

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