Hello, my name is Heather Allen and I would like to introduce myself as your AlphaNet coordinator.
I currently live in California. Prior to that, I lived in Nevada for 20 years, however, my father was in the military, so I have lived in many places. I have a daughter, three dogs and two cats. I enjoy watching my daughter compete in dance competitions and enjoy maintaining our vegetable garden. I’ve had various types of employment over the years and found that teaching math as one of my passions. With my most recent job, I taught high school seniors college level math.
My Alpha-1 diagnose is not one that most people experience. One evening I heard a report on TV about a community health study in Nevada and participants would receive free 23 and Me testing. I decided to participate and within a few weeks I received my ancestry information. Around that time, I was in and out of the hospital with various illnesses and breathing issues. Doctors diagnosed me with emphysema but they did not believe me when I told them I had quit smoking 10 years before. Shortly thereafter, the FDA allowed 23 and Me to release genetic health risk information and I was at risk for Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency and was identified as a “ZZ” Alpha. I immediately dove into research about Alpha-1 and my first contact was with another Alpha who would later become my AlphaNet Coordinator. He reassured me that having an Alpha-1 diagnosis was not a death sentence. Shortly thereafter, I started augmentation therapy and became active within our local support group.
My first reaction after being diagnosed and starting augmentation therapy was to educate my local community as well as the health care community to promote early testing and detection of Alpha-1. I have also been a part of many advocacy actions and proclamations that have been granted in Northern Nevada.
I am looking forward to speaking you. By connecting with AlphaNet, it is my hope that I will provide you with information and resources through our Health Management Program that will educate and help you during your Alpha-1 journey.