In 1983, Lynn Corwin started acting. She was 35-years-old at the time and hasn’t stopped since – even when diagnosed with Churg Strauss Syndrome (CSS). The Northfield Center, Ohio resident has done mostly comedies and dramas throughout the Cleveland area, and plays the real-life role of an advocate of those with CSS.
But what is CSS? Corwin explains that it’s “an extremely rare, progressive, and incurable form of vasculitis (inflammation of blood vessels). Asthma is the main symptom, along with fatigue, cough, rashes, and sinus disease. The cause of CSS is unknown, but it is not contagious. It is extremely difficult to diagnose (there is no definitive test), and most people suffer organ damage before they are diagnosed. Prednisone (steroids) and immunosuppressant drugs are the gold standard for treating any form of vasculitis.”
Corwin, who’s been in over 30 shows throughout the greater Cleveland area, was diagnosed in 2008. She’d suffered about two years of dealing with unrelenting asthma, feeling generally unwell, fighting a chronic cough, and suffering with purple welts on her skin. It was only after many visits to specialists and four hospitalizations that she was finally diagnosed with CSS.
“Over the last three years, I have been stable with no “flare-ups”. I am on several medications and I visit many specialists on a regular basis to head off any problems before they get out of hand. Other than varying degrees of fatigue, I live my life similarly to most everyone else my age,” Corwin says.
Corwin is the Chapter Leader for the Cleveland-Akron support group of the Vasculitis Foundation. “One of the ways I raise awareness is to travel to different medical meetings around the country to meet with doctors and other medical professionals. I also raise awareness by carrying around printed material and talking to people (friends, strangers, doctors, etc.) about CSS.”
She notes that her performance background has helped her in her campaign for awareness of CSS. “Because I am familiar with being on the stage in front of strangers, I am very comfortable with public speaking. Being part of a production has taught me how to deal with various personalities.”
She’s weaved her arts experience into her campaign and has ended up on television and made public service announcements. “I tell everyone that I am a community theatre actress, and I choose to “act” healthy. I don’t say, “Why me?”. I say, “Why not me?” Theatre has made me outgoing, and I share my stage presence with people that I talk to,” Corwin explains.
According to a Cleveland Jewish News article published about Corwin in 2009, (Arlene Fine, CJN), “Currently Corwin is in a five-year vasculitis study at the Cleveland Clinic headed by rheumatologist Dr. Carol Langford, a member of The Churg Strauss Syndrome Association’s medical advisory board.”
The piece also goes on: “Although vasculitis is uncommon, spreading awareness about these diseases is extremely important, as it benefits patients and physicians, and it also promotes the necessity of research funding to understand and develop better treatments for vasculitis,” says Langford. “Bringing attention to vasculitis means a great deal to our patients.”
The article also lists the symptoms of vasculitis as: fatigue/weakness, chronic sinusitis/nasal allergies, cough/shortness of breath, lung inflammation, asthma, joint pain/facial soreness, abdominal pain/gastrointestinal bleeding, kidney problems/bloody urine, dark urine, nerve problems (numbness, weakness, pain), vision changes, atypical severe headaches, skin lesions/rashes, fever.
Although she’ll never be completely in remission, Corwin is living each day to her fullest. She educates, she inspires, and she performs a great service to her community.
See a VIDEO PSA by Lynn Corwin by clicking HERE.
To learn more about CSS, visit the CSS Association website by clicking HERE.
Read more HEART OF THE ARTS ARTICLES:
– Cleveland-area Musician Mixes Canines and Kitties
– Allison Lint Fights Vasculitis With Her Violin
– Ellen Pill takes on ALS
Do you have a Cleveland area performing arts related story or event, or a Heart of the Arts lead? Contact Cleveland Performing Arts Examiner, KATE MILLER at [email protected]