Pughsville woman shares story in magazine contest

Published 10:43 pm Tuesday, September 13, 2011

When Suffolk resident Penny Rorrer sat down to write her life story in 150 words for a “Reader’s Digest” contest, she had her eye on the prize.

Not the $25,000 cash prize, though. Instead, she was focused on the masses of people she could reach with her story if it were chosen for publication.


With those readers in mind, Rorrer entered her 150-word story about her struggles with gastroparesis, a condition in which the stomach doesn’t contract normally and causes food to sit for longer than it should, in the “Reader’s Digest” Your Life contest.

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“With gastroparesis, the stomach doesn’t grind the food,” she said. “Food can sit there for hours or even days longer than it is supposed to.”

Rorrer’s story is one of thousands of entries that are up for voting on the “Reader’s Digest” Facebook page. Voting will continue until Nov. 1, and at that time, the magazine will select its favorite story from the most popular entries.

The winner will receive $25,000 and publication in the magazine. The entrant with the most votes for their story also will receive a prize.

Rorrer’s story has become one of the most popular stories. She said when she checked on Tuesday, her story was 16th of out thousands in popularity.

“Each and every vote can make a difference in the lives of so many,” Rorrer said. “This isn’t my story; this is the story of all my friends, and raising awareness could just change the lives of so many.”

Rorrer, who lives on Pughsville Road, said she has striven to bring attention to gastroparesis since she was diagnosed two years ago. When she read about the “Reader’s Digest” contest, she thought it was a great opportunity to spread the word.

“Awareness is incredibly low for this condition,” she said. “I wanted to get into this contest, and I’m begging my friends to vote for (my story), to raise awareness.”

In her entry, “One woman, one life … one hope,” Rorrer paints the picture of her life and explains her thirst to be the perfect mother, who always has cookies in the oven and never has a hair out of place, and her battle with gastroparesis that keeps that dream from coming true.

“It would be easy to give a synopsis of my life that paints me as the perfect 1950s TV mother,” she wrote. “It would be easy, but it would not be me because I am instead someone who rarely has the energy to get out of bed … because I, like 4 percent of Americans, suffer from a condition called gastroparesis.”

When she wrote the story, Rorrer said, she thought about all the things she would love to be able to do but can’t and channeled that frustration into her story.

“I was thinking I would love to be perfect and cook for my family and do all these things, but I can’t, and it’s because of my condition,” she said.

Rorrer said she hopes her story makes a difference in someone’s life.

“If just one person out there has the symptoms and has been told it’s all in their head or it’s all stress, and they see this, go out and get tested, and start feeling better, it’s worth it.”

To vote for Rorrer’s story, click here.

For more information on gastroparesis, visit www.g-pact.org.