It’s rare that life-altering symptoms of disease go entirely undiagnosed for years. A new show that premiered Aug. 8 on TNT and TBS reveals the stories of those who face this reality.
The bold docu-series, Chasing the Cure, is produced by journalist and former Today anchor, Ann Curry. In the show, doctors consider rare and extreme medical mysteries, case-by-case. Each episode invites viewers to call, text or tweet the Crowd Cure Center — the program's 24/7 live digital platform that hosts a discussion regarding the presented cases.
The first case in the premiere episode introduced Rori, a woman who had worked as a first-grade teacher for more than twenty years when she was faced with neurodegenerative symptoms including muscle atrophy, early stages of belabored breathing, and an inability to walk, stand, talk, and swallow. She was forced to retire as a teacher and her family subsequently lost their home to medical debt.
Rori became hopeless after more than two years of searching for a diagnosis.
“We want to know, has anybody seen anything like this before?” asked Justin, Rori’s husband.
With her series, Curry aims to answer questions like these — reaching out to a wide audience in the hopes of finding someone who may recognize the undiagnosed symptoms of the disease and provide adequate advice. Twitter users can share their thoughts about Rori’s case with the hashtag #HelpRori to be read on-air.
Using the power of visibility amid the digital age, Curry taps into channels for connection and healing that may otherwise go unacknowledged.
"Technology, medicine, journalism and television storytelling are all in a disruptive period," Curry told TV Insider. "Never before has it been possible for strangers to communicate with each other and help each other [the way they can] today."
When panelists sat down in-studio to discuss their thoughts on Rori’s case, they posited that she may be suffering from a disease related to multiple sclerosis (MS), Henoch-Schonlein purpura (HSP), Lyme Disease or Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
Stupefied doctors responded by ordering genome sequenced testing, a swallowing study, and a world-class neuroscientist to evaluate the results. Insurance had previously denied these tests for Rori, whose case remains unresolved.
Other cases shown on the pilot episode include:
- Hannah - a former athlete who gained over 90 pounds in one year, suffers severe head pain and has to use the bathroom over 20 times a day. She was diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).
- Mike - a man who, since a vacation to the Caribbean, suffers severe stomach pain and enormous bloating every time he eats solid foods. His condition, which caused drastic weight loss, is believed to be Barrett’s esophagus - a precursor to esophageal cancer.
- Jeremy - a man who suffers from seizures and a rare skin condition. His condition remains undiagnosed.
While not all patients featured will be able to find a diagnosis as many medical mysteries go unresolved, this show opens the door for affected survivors to be heard. Through television, Curry experimentally cultivates a community that ties together ideals of human empathy, digital outreach, patient empowerment and medical advocacy.
Tune in to TNT or TBS every Thursday at 6 p.m. PST/9 p.m. EST to take part.