Social Networks Make Rare Diseases Not so Hard to Find

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"I think if you talk to people through these sites and gain a perspective on life, it can be a life-changing positive thing," said Kendall Speer, 26, a special education teacher who suffers from Muckle-Wells syndrome, a rare autoimmune disease characterized by fevers, hives, hearing loss and swollen joints.

"You can see on those forums that we all have a similar perspective," said Speer, who was diagnosed with the disease in her early 20s.

"We learn to see the little things in life like birds chirping and blue sky," she said. "You see people who used to be the guy honking horn in traffic and he's changed, calmed down. We stay positive and look at all the beautiful things and see that life's worth living."

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