Cindi grew up in the outskirts of Des Moines, Iowa. A place where she was part of the city, but just a block’s walk away from Iowa’s beautiful countryside. Her family’s story of the mumps doesn’t begin with her, but long before she was born, with her mother, Guinevere.
Guinevere is soon to be 86 years old, but she can still remember the mumps like it was yesterday. In 1951, just a few weeks before her wedding day she came down with a very harsh case of the mumps. The 23 year-old Guinevere became very sick. She remembers not being able to eat because of the extreme pain and the swollen jaw and neck. Even the thought of swallowing was unbearable. After being able to take in only fluids for a few weeks, her 5’5″ body had slimmed down to a disturbingly-thin 90 pounds. Thankfully the swelling in her jaw and neck vanished a few days before she walked down the aisle, but her frail figure in the aftermath of the mumps can be seen in her wedding photos. Even to this day, her memories of the mumps are haunting, but definitely didn’t end with herself.
Guinevere’s first born, Toni, came in 1954, and then came Cindi, the middle daughter, in 1955. Somewhere before Guinevere’s third daughter arrived, Toni came down with the mumps. Toni remembers the mumps quite vividly. She recalls being miserable, with horrible swelling and the absolute worst sore throat you can imagine, completely unlike any other sore throat she has had since. She claims to have felt swollen inside and out–a feeling that she can’t compare to any other.
Cindi’s parents did nothing to separate the two sisters, in fact the doctor at the time recommended that they actually keep the two of them closer together so that Cindi would get sick with the mumps sooner rather than later (almost all children at that time contracted the mumps naturally). Thankfully, Cindi never showed symptoms of having the mumps, which occurs in many children who actually contract the mumps. And although the mumps vaccine came out in 1967, she was never vaccinated. Her younger sister, who was born in 1963, however, did get the vaccine.
Toni, the elder sister went on to have her first child some time later during the height of the MMR-autism scandal in the late 1990’s. At this time, many parents were hesitant to vaccinate their children. After going through such a nasty case of the mumps, Toni was not going to let her children suffer through a horrible childhood disease when it was preventable. She did not hesitate to vaccinate her two daughters.
Cindi lived for fifty years unvaccinated, and until recently assumed she would not ever have to hear about the mumps again. However, in her early 50’s, the mumps creeped back up into her life. She had planned to play a golf in tournament in Waterloo, Iowa during the summer of 2006. However, there was an apparent outbreak of the mumps in the area, at that time. Knowing what destruction the mumps could cause, she was hesitant to go.
Wondering if maybe she had contracted symptom-less mumps as a child and had immunity, she visited her doctor to get her antibody levels checked. The doctor did a blood test, and it came back negative for mumps antibodies. She had no immunity!
Right then and there, Cindi decided to get the MMR vaccine. She hasn’t since contracted the mumps, and probably never will.
This just goes to show that it’s never too late to protect yourself!