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Breaths for Brittanie

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FOR FUN: Brittanie Mosson gets ready to wave the green flag to start a race during A FUN Bike Race and Safety Day on Saturday at Circle Park in Frankfort.
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FAMILY: Brittanie Mosson, center, is surrounded by, from left, her cousin, KC Call; brother, Brandon Cottrell; husband, Mitch Mosson; son, Jaice Mosson; and mother, Tina Cottrell during Friday's Breaths for Britt meet and greet in Safe Havenat 210 S. Jackson St. in Frankfort.

By AARON KENNEDY - akennedy@ftimes.com

 Since she was a teenager, Brittanie (Cottrell) Mosson has been struggling with increasingly poor lung function due to a mysterious ailment which continues to elude diagnosis.

On Friday, the 32-year-old Frankfort native was surrounded by family and friends for a meet and greet at Safe Haven Natural Therapeutic Treatment, a business at 210 S. Jackson St. in Frankfort that is operated by her cousin, KC Call. By her side were her husband, Mitch, and her son, Jaice.

As bills mount and the root cause of her breathing problem remains elusive, her family, friends and community have done all they can to support the young family.

“We started Breaths for Brittanie to get my story out there,” Brittanie said. “It is a Facebook group, an Instagram (group) and a GoFundMe trying to get my story out there to try to find answers and find a diagnosis because they still don't know what I have they just know how it is affecting me and my loved ones.

“As I get older, my lung function continues to go down,” she continued. “I end up on more medications and more machines to make me feel comfortable and kind of live a somewhat normal life.”

Brittanie first noticed her breathing problems when she was 15.

“I was actually getting ready for a color guard performance, and I just couldn't catch my breath,” she said. “So, we went to the ER, and they diagnosed me with asthma. It was kept at bay with medications, inhalers and stuff. As I got older, it started morphing into different symptoms – more severe symptoms. Now, I am left with 18 percent lung function. I am on oxygen 24/7, 3-4 liters. I am on a ventilator at night that breaths for me. I am on a ton of medications. I use a walker or a wheelchair if I have to go long distances.

“I went to Mayo Clinic two years ago, and they couldn't diagnose me,” Brittanie added. “We went to Indianapolis, and they actually had me in the course for a transplant because, to our understanding, it was my lungs and, not matter what the diagnosis was, it didn't change the fact that my lungs were bad, and I would need new ones at some point in time.”

During her last hospital stay in February, Brittanie was told that her doctors were no longer going to pursue a lung transplant.

“They said they didn't believe that it was just my lungs anymore,” she said. “They thought that there is something in my body causing my lungs not to function properly. But, they can't tell me what exactly that would be. They thought maybe it was neurological, but I had all the tests for that with nothing coming back.”

Brittanie is scheduled to see a new specialist soon.

“It is a new pulmonologist,” she said. “They want to see if he can offer any new insight. They just sent more neurological testing. They took my DNA and my parents DNA as a last-ditch effort to see if it is neurological. They said that, for any reason, if neither one of those pop up, they are left up in the air.”

In the case that her condition remains undiagnosed, Brittanie's doctors say there is a place in Kentucky that specializes in undiagnosed diseases.

“Their website says that about 60 percent of their cases still leave without a diagnosis,” Brittanie said.

If Brittanie ends up being in that 60 percent, her doctors says that their focus will remain on keeping her as comfortable as possible.

“Being 32, I want to live a life,” she said. “I don't want to just be comfortable.”

Meanwhile, the medical bills accumulate.

“They are quite outrageous,” Brittanie said. “Even the machines. Not many people realize just everything by itself is really expensive, and then you throw it all together. And I have been dealing with this since I was 15, so it does weigh.”

“And then, if she does go to the hospital, her husband has to take off of work to go be with her,” said her mother, Tina Cottrell. “And her son is down there, so there are more expenses, and he is not being paid to be there.”

Mitch Mosson says there have been a lot of ups and downs through the years.

“We knew her lung capacity was getting low,” Mitch said. “But, it was always just kind of 'let's see you in a year, and we will do another test.' But then they thought about a lung transplant. Neither one of us knew it was getting that bad.”

“Even with that, we felt like we had a direction,” Brittanie said. “Once that was taken away, we were left back further than where we began.

“Since my son is 11, this is all he has ever known,” she added. “He has seen me in and out of hospitals. He has never actually had a normal childhood where he can have his mom come out and play with him in the backyard. He grew up calling the hospital my second home because that is what he is used to. Unfortunately, it is a normal thing for him.”

So, Brittanie appreciates everything that her family and friends have done over the years to raise money and help search for answers.

“It means the absolute world to me,” Brittanie said. “This community has been so amazing already with everything they have done. Last year, they held a poker run for the cause, and everyone was absolutely phenomenal.

“I can't thank me cousin (KC Call) enough for not only doing this but she make me come in and get treatments,” she added. “I am very thankful for everyone who has donated, everyone who has reached out just to wish me well or check up on me. Everything is amazing. No one has to do any of that, but just them wanting to – I am very blessed.”

Inside a display case at Safe Haven are bracelets, key chains and necklaces for sale, with all proceeds going to Brittanie's medical expenses.

“She also has her donation jar in here,” said Call. “We are looking at possibly bringing in shirts and cups to help raise money for her. It is to help ease that burden of finances for her and her husband.”

Taking Breaths for Brittanie is a Facebook group with over 890 members and links to her GoFundMe and other things, like Joanna Wheeler's nail polish strip fundraiser.

“They are 100 percent nail polish, and we have a huge variety,” Wheeler said. “I get 25 percent commission off of the sales, but 100 percent of that will go to Breaths for Brittanie. We will keep the party going on her page. Anybody can go to her page and find the link to order these, support Brittanie and have some fabulous nails in the meantime.”

“I am very impressed and appreciative of the community in helping her out,” said Cottrell. “The unknown is the worst thing. It is depressing seeing her go through the different moods, and then her husband and child.”

On Saturday, Brittanie was invited to wave the green flag for little riders at A FUN (Frankfort United Neighborhoods) Bicycle Race and Safety Day at Circle Park in Frankfort.

“It was a lot of fun,” Brittanie said. “I really enjoyed it. Any time that I can get out of the house and act like a normal person, I am more than happy to do it. Stuff like that makes me feel like I am more than a sickness, and I am more than thankful for that. I may not feel the best afterward, but it is totally worth it. All I am after is a normal life. I am very grateful that they invited me, and the kids had a lot of fun.”