May 28, 2006
By JIM FARRELL, Courant Staff Writer
She entered a beauty pageant.
"If someone famous had this disease, maybe some actress, everybody would know about it," said Starks, a 28-year-old self-described stay-at-home mom from Manchester who two years ago first heard the ominous words "fibrosing mediastinitis."
She has never been in a beauty contest before, but when her first awareness-raising idea fizzled - Oprah didn't write back - Starks signed up for the Mrs. Connecticut pageant that will be held in Hartford next month.
"I'm searching for ways to get the word out," she said, adding that she has learned that only 300-400 people nationally are currently diagnosed with her disease.
Starks has a large, irregular-shaped calcified mass of scar tissue between her heart and right lung, which has been rendered nonfunctional because blood cannot reach it. The disorder was likely caused by an abnormal response to an infection.
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