AUBURN -- An Auburn family that is desperately searching for answers hosted a fundraiser on Sunday.
Juliette Dubose, 15, has been diagnosed with a rare disease that attacks the soft tissue in her body.
As the teenager battles the illness, her family is raising money, hoping to send her to a specialist that could help her fight back.
At the Hair Central Salon you could hear the buzz of a blow dryer, the sizzle of a curling iron -- all sounds of a community hard at work.
Jan Lander is Juliette’s mother. On Sunday, a fundraiser at the salon aimed to raise donations for her daughter. Lander reflects on a confusing medical journey, one with more questions than answers.
“They found that she had cysts inside of her bones,” Lander said.
Despite the disease racking Juliette’s body, those around her say she has a lot of fight in her. She’s been diagnosed with mixed cognitive tissue disease with poluarticular idiopathic arthritis. Some days are more difficult than others.
“She has gone through a lot,” said Jerome Hales, one of Juliette's nurses. “She’s had better days, not so well days, but still when they walk into a room she is there smiling.”
Smiling through a silent battle, Lander said symptoms began to show in her daughter when she was just a child, at age 7.
“We did some blood tests and found that she had the mixed connective tissue disease,” Lander said.
The complex disease requires research, and the knowledge of a specialist, something their current insurance doesn’t cover the cost of.
“This is a mixture of all of those connective tissue diseases, the body basically attacks itself,” Lander said.
Hales has been by Juliette's side, giving her strength, cheering her on when the days get long and the medical journey feels grueling.
“In younger people, no matter what they’re going through, they still look past that and find something to smile about,” Hales said. “That’s why I was drawn to her and her family.”
Although deeply impacted by the disease, those who know Juliette call her bubbly, recalling her vibrant personality and strong spirit.
“It’s hard not to get attached to someone like her, you just vibe with them and you just want the best for her,” Hales said.
And so the community works together, a meek donation bucket tucked in the midst of volunteers combing and trimming at the hair salon. All of it, a community’s labor of love for a teenager in the fight of her life.
Juliette's family has set up a GoFundMe account to help raise money for her medical costs. You can donate, here.