Author Joanne: ‘I have ME but it doesn’t have me’

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A young Ballymoney woman who is been bed-ridden due to ME has published a book with the aim of raising money for a charity which helps orphans in the Phillipines.

Joanne Peden has just graduated from Queen’s University in Belfast when she was struck down by severe Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME) in her early 20s. Twelve years later, her condition has not improved and she has been bed-ridden for the last four years.

Joanne takes up the story: “I didn’t know what was happening to me at first and it took doctors a long time to pinpoint what disease I had. For the most part of 12 years I’ve been bed and housebound. At first I grieved sore. I thought what can I possibly accomplish in this broken body?

“My dreams started to die until I realised I was only limited if I gave up. I had to find new ways to reach out and encourage others and make others lives better. At first I started writing a lot of letters and encouragement cards and sending gifts to other sick people. Then in 2010 I wrote my first book to bring encouragement to others called ‘A Myrtle Tree For Life’s Briars’.

“Through the sales of my own copies I raised £3,500 for an orphanage in Romania called Deborah House. After that I became determined to contribute even more so I found an organisation called Beauty For Ashes that rescues young girls who have been sold into prostitution and, from my bed, I sold the jewellery that they produce and raised £1,000.

“In 2014 I read about the Little Princess Trust and I was determined to do something for these sickly children to make their lives brighter. So I had my pride and joy, my beloved hair, chopped off and raised £1,500.

“In the years that followed my body was deteriorating more and I was in and out of hospital constantly but I had another dream to write another book from my bed to bring encouragement and daily strength to others.

“I saw that vision come to pass a few weeks ago and I now hold in my hands ‘Jewels of Jabbok’. I am raising money for an organisation called Helping Hand’s Healing Hearts Ministries Philippines which is another relief mission to really poor orphans.”

The book, priced at £10, is available locally at Restored Cafe, Main Street, Ballymoney; Nico’s Coffee Shop (Ballybrakes Industrial Estate); W&J Walkers, Main Street, Ballymoney and McFadden’s Spar, Strancoum.

Or you can contact Joanne via email amyrtletree@hotmail.com to order a copy which can be paid for via paypal.me/MissPeden. The cost is £11.36 to include postage and packaging.

“My goal is to raise £4,000 this time. It’s my faith in God and my determination that “if I can stop one heart from breaking I shall not live in vain” that keeps me going.”