Woman fighting valley fever: 'my life has been on hold'

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) - Shannon Smotherman wants to share her experience with valley fever, raising awareness of the serious disease.

She started to have symptoms of valley fever in December 2013 but tested negative several times. She visited the doctor several times but was diagnosed with other illnesses, like bronchitis and pneumonia.

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Smotherman went to a different doctor, who told her even though she is testing negative, she does have valley fever and there is a lesion in the lower lobe of her left lung.

She started treatment in April, but the drugs were not working, so she had to be treated with a stronger drug, Amphotericin B, which is an antifungal medication.

Now, she spends three days a week in the hospital undergoing treatment through a PICC line in her arm. Her treatment will be completed once she finished 15,000 milligrams of the Amphotericin B.

"They have to check my labs every single day to make sure that my potassium is OK, my magnesium is OK, and my kidney function, my liver function, everything," said Smotherman.

So far in 2014, 336 cases of valley fever have already been reported in Kern County. In 2013, a total of 472 cases were reported.

"There are more people on this than people do think," said Smotherman. "I mean, I'm on a floor that has more than just myself taking the Amphotericin B."

Luckily for Smotherman, her lesion is now shrinking, and her symptoms are getting better. She is expected to complete treatment in August.

"I have a lot of plans after this, since my life has been on hold," said Smotherman. "I'm going to do as many things as I can and spend more time with my kids and actually play with them."

Smotherman hopes that by sharing her story, those who experience symptoms of valley fever will consider getting checked by a doctor.