If you talk to Army veteran Pat Sherrod-Elliott about her son, Marine Sgt. Sean Joseph Victor, she tells you, “Our son was actually a miracle.”
Sean served eight years in the Marine Corps, traveling to Haiti after a catastrophic earthquake, doing a tour on USS Truman, and living in Japan for two years. He married another service member and had a son.
It was only after his service and starting his own family that Sean and his mother learned he had a genetic disease that usually kills its victims as children.
Pat noticed big changes in his appearance and behavior in 2019.
“When I saw him, I immediately thought that he had had a stroke because he had a different look about him.”
It took months at hospitals in Charleston, South Carolina and Bethesda, Maryland to get a diagnosis.
Genetic testing eventually revealed ALD, or Adrenoleukodystrophy. The condition damages the membrane that protects the nerve cells in the brain. People born with ALD usually do not make it through childhood, which is what made Sean’s case a miracle. It never affected him through his military career.
“Initially I was shocked because Sean had never been sick,” Pat said.
Pat stayed in the Fisher Houses in Charleston and Bethesda while supporting her son.
“I did not want to travel back and forth every day. It was truly a blessing to have the opportunity to be here in Charleston,” she said.
At the Fisher House in Charleston, Pat said she did not have to worry about transportation or meals. It helped her to focus on her son’s needs.
“It gave me peace of mind because if I had to travel every day, I think I probably would've lost it because of the stress of his condition,” she said, "not knowing exactly what it was, how it was going to affect him, how long it was going to last, what kind of treatment he would need."
While Sean was in Maryland, Pat also stayed at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland.
“I have nothing but good things to say about not only the house, but the staff. They were supportive. They were compassionate.”
“There was always someone there to listen with no judgment, just listen and be very supportive,” she said. “So, I was very happy with the Fisher House in Maryland.”
Pat says when Sean learned of his terminal condition, he was brave. He never broke down in front of her.
“He passed away at the age of 34,” she said. “He loved God, loved his country, loved being a Marine, and he was a beloved father. I have a 6-year-old grandson who looks exactly like him. So, every time I look at his picture, I see my son.”
“I want everyone to know that the Fisher House, as I said, and I can't say it enough, it's truly a blessing to families during their time of need.”