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Milligan student battling life threatening anorexia

Sue Guinn Legg • Jul 17, 2014 at 1:07 PM

Jenny Rhoden, a 28-year-old graduate student at Milligan College, is at the Center for Change in Orem, Utah, recovering from a life-threatening battle with anorexia — at a cost of $900 a day,Her family and friends have joined together to raise funds to help with the cost of her treatment and to raise awareness that eating disorders can be fatal, treatment is necessary and expensive, and insurance coverage is woefully lacking.Cherokee United Methodist Church in Johnson City is helping with the fundraising and has shared a small portion of Jenny’s long struggle in its appeal for financial help to give her the time at the center she needs to recover.According to the church, while working on her master’s degree in occupational therapy at Milligan, Jenny told her classmates about the eating disorder that has been a persistent part of her life since a very young age. Her intent at that time was to educate others about the dangers of anorexia. Then early this year she suffered a severe setback. As a direct result of her eating disorder, Jenny’s weight dropped below 84 pounds. She developed serious complications. Both her heart and her kidneys were damaged and her life was at risk. Her doctors told her that without intensive treatment, rehabilitation and a change of mindset, she would not survive. Rhoden went to the Center for Change because of the lack of inpatient care she needs in the local area.Jenny’s grandmother, Inge Rhoden, explained the family’s urgency both in their fundraising for her treatment and in educating others about anorexia. “Most people don’t really understand that this is a life-threatening illness,” she said. “There is no cure for it and the treatment is very, very expensive.”The cost of the four months of inpatient treatment Jenny needs to heal far exceeds what her insurance will cover.Her stepmother, Penny Rhoden, said by its very definition, anorexia is “a serious physical and emotional illness in which an abnormal fear of being fat leads to dangerous weight loss even to the point of death.” She also noted eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness.“Though rampant in this country (anorexia) is understated and misunderstood,” she said. “Society labels it purely as an obsession. ... In truth, those who struggle with anorexia suffer from psychological torment and the weight loss is merely an attempt to use food to solve unseen emotional problems.“It is because of this complicated, twofold deterioration of body and mind that physical as well as mental health must be addressed in treatment that can easily and quickly mount to staggering figures.“We are speaking out in hopes not just to raise awareness for our daughter, but for all the 24 million people of all ages and genders who suffer from eating disorders. Our hearts’ desire is to see all those who struggle with eating disorders, no matter their financial background, have the opportunity to receive treatment for this horribly destructive disease.”In their appeal for help for Jenny, Cherokee emphasizes that “no donation is too small,” and contributions are tax deductible. Those who wish to help may make donations online at www.cherokee.cloverdonations.com/hopeforjenny or by mail to Cherokee United Methodist Church, c/o Amy Ramsey, 2615 S. Roan St., Johnson City, TN 37604. Checks may be made payable to the church and earmarked for Jenny Rhoden.

If there is a need or a project in your neighborhood the Good Neighbor column can assist with, contact Sue Guinn Legg at slegg@johnsoncitypress.com, P.O. Box 1717, Johnson City, TN 37605 1717 or 929-3111, ext. 335. Follow Sue Guinn Legg on Twitter @sueleggjcpress. Like her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/

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