A good number of people might know what Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS) is, but not too many know the symptoms that accompany it. Symptoms that can be masked under other categories and can fog someone’s knowledge of what they might be experiencing. TSS is a rare but serious condition that occurs when an open wound becomes infected. Women can get TSS through tampon use, as if “creating a petri dish” for bacteria to grow. More often highly-absorbent tampons can cause this exact kind of toxin release directly into the bloodstream.
Dawn Massabni, a mother of two, lost her daughter, Maddy to Toxic Shock Syndrome in March of 2017. She still had hopes of finishing college and moving into the fashion industry, even setting out to travel the world. Dawn’s family had a tradition of always spending their birthdays with one another and so the year Maddy turned 19, she spent part of it with her brother, Georgie at his school and the other part at home in Rumson, NJ with her mom. When arriving home, Maddy started to feel symptoms that mimicked the flu: a bit feverish, fatigue. Overnight is all it took; Maddy was semi-conscious that next morning. Within 36 hours, Dawn’s best friend was gone, leaving her friends and family behind, unable to finish college, unable to celebrate another birthday with her mother and Georgie.
Dawn is a wonderful and resilient mother who is now spreading awareness for TSS with her non-profit foundation, Don’t Shock Me. She travels to high schools and colleges in the U.S. to speak to young women about TSS and the risks of tampon use.
When I asked Dawn about her daughter she described her as beautiful, determined and strong. She also told me about Maddy’s school and how since her passing, they are now focusing on the serious topic of Toxic Shock Syndrome as opposed to briefly touching upon it. With little information about TSS, young girls are unaware of what they should be looking out for. Thankfully, her school now sees the importance of spreading awareness and helping those girls who might not have someone in their family to bring up the serious topic of Toxic Shock Syndrome.
For more information on Dawn’s non-profit, visit dontshockme.org.