Hello, my name is LaShonn Edmunds and I’m so nervous and excited all at the same time because I’m actually going to expose my medical issue to the world. Scary! However, I hope and pray that my story will help somebody else.
I have a chronic disease called Primary Lymphedema-Tarda. Some of you may ask what in the world is that! I know I asked the same thing! To my surprise, most people never heard of it …not even doctors! Talk about scary! In fact, I was misdiagnosed by several doctors for a couple of years because of their lack of knowledge about the disease. Of course, this is not the doctor’s fault because they only receive about one hour’s worth of lymphatic diseases training during their four years in college. Let me explain how the medical community figured it out that I had this disease.
The doctor’s tried to figure out what was wrong with my by testing me for heart diseases, vein issues, gout, diabetes, cancer, thyroids and they could not come up with anything. The doctor’s final prognosis was I’m overweight and I need to watch my salt intake. He prescribed me some fluid pills and sent me on way. Let’s keep in mind I was 24 years old and just had my 3rd child and weighed about 145lbs! So you can imagine how I felt my doctor just told me I was fat!! Even though I am a strong African-American woman those words from my doctor cut like a knife. My thoughts were “I just had a baby a few years ago and I’ve never been a small woman. Come on… is obesity the real answer to my feet swelling! Don’t argue Shonn just Go Get K.I.M! (Keep It Moving!)” The doctor just gave me a life mission “lose weight to reduce the swelling”. In my mind, I’m now on a mission to get fit! Surely this will fix me and I will be healthy again.
Getting fit didn’t work out too well! New baby, work, and marriage…just too much on my plate. My swelling was there but hey I could still wear my shoes so no big deal. Until one day I was outside and got bit by a bug. I kept picking at the scar and my leg got infected! Next thing I know I passed out at work and was rushed to the hospital. Two blood transfusions and two days in the hospital later they advised that I developed cellulitis! What in the world is that! EXACTLY! No real explanation from anyone but was told to follow-up with my doctor that it was just a bad infection.
I tried to follow-up with my doctor but this particular day he did not have any appointments so they sent me to the nurse practitioner. I say she was an angel sent from heaven! My nurse practitioner explained to me what cellulitis was and also asked me a million questions, reviewed my charts and opened a book and said…I figured out what’s wrong with you…. you have LYMPHEDEMA! I was Excited, Thrilled, Relieved! Yes, I got something and you know how to fix it…give me my medicine and send me on my way! Then the excitement quickly stopped as she pronounced my death sentence….” I’m sorry there is NO CURE! ” This is where my story begins……
Now that I’ve received this horrible fate it came with some horrible lifestyle changes. One big one was that I could no longer wear fashionable shoes. I was so distraught because I absolutely love shoes. I work in a corporate environment where wearing casual or dress shoes is a must. At this point the only thing I could wear were shoes two sizes to big or flip flops. I was so embarrassed and depressed until God gave me a vision! He gave me the idea to become an inventor and create shoes cute comfortable shoes for women with swollen feet. I did exactly that and started my company CAIRS Shoes. Our shoes are comfortable Tru-Stretch shoes that will expand out and up. They are cute and fashionable too.
During my journey of inventing CAIRS Shoes I received a lot of help from various mentors within Greenville, South Carolina. Each mentor helped me in various phases of developing my shoes. I am so extremely grateful for each of them because I could not have made it without them. Below is a quick list of a few of them that support me on the journey:
- Leadership Development – Sr. Pastor Wendall Jones – Wendell Jones Leadership Institute
- Ideation – Bill Little – Engineer mentor
- Design – William Rowe – Rowe Shoe Cobbler
- Prototype – Joey Loman – Synergymill
- Financial Planning – Bill Heitz – Score
- Operations – Beth Veach – Entrepreneur Acumen Consultant
- Medical Advice – Dr. William Long – Upstate Podiatry
- Medical Shoe Expert – Shelly Simmering Esq – Pedorthist
- Startup Business Development – Jeanette Brewster – Village Launch
- Advance Business Development – Bryan Davis – GVL Starts
As you can see my city and community truly supports my vision. Each mentor gave me some unique experience that elevated my progress to be able to reach my goal of ready to sell shoes. We are excited to announce that we are now in final production and as long as COVID doesn’t slow us up, we will begin selling in March!