Reporter’s Notebook: Woman starts support group

By Tonya Fennell: CNJ staff writer

A MYRIAD OF HEALTH PROBLEMS plague Laurie Johannsen.

The 47-year-old suffers from pulmonary hypertension, sleep apnea and an autoimmune disease, she said.

Although Johannsen, a former special education teacher, has a host of family and friends, she said discussing her ailments is hard.

AND SO AN IDEA TO BEGIN A SUPPORT GROUP for women with chronic illnesses was born.

“If we (women with chronic illnesses) were drug addicts or alcoholics, we would have a support group,” Johannsen said, “but there isn’t much out there for women.”

Johannsen said she would like to create a small, intimate group where women can sit, talk and share secrets.

“I’m a face-to-face person and a good listener,” she said, “but I need someone to listen to me.”

ONE ISSUE JOHANNSEN HOPES TO COVER once the group is started is grief.

“You have to go through a grief process (when you get sick),” she said, “because you have to grieve the changes in your body.”

Reporter’s notebook was compiled by CNJ staff writer Tonya Fennell. Suggested items may be mailed to Managing Editor Rick White at P.O. Box 1689, Clovis 88102. The e-mail address is: