Physical therapist, entrepreneur, disabled model, and life coach Dani Fusaro empowers thousands of people through her blog Days with Dani Nicole. Ironically, Dani is living with chronic illness. Behind this inspiring woman is a story worth sharing.
In 2015, during her first year in graduate school, Dani felt her health deteriorate. At first, she assumed that it was only because of the workload that came with her rigorous dual program for a bachelor’s in athletic training and a doctorate in physical therapy. But Dani suspected that it was something else as her symptoms worsened. She experienced nausea, dizziness, difficulty eating, intense pain, fatigue, and so much more. When she sought medical help, Dani was diagnosed with a severe chronic infection and Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome.
However, they did not get to the bottom of her problems because Dani was determined to finish her degree first before seeking intensive medical help. Her professors were encouraged her to take a medical leave, but Dani was worried that if she stopped, she might never finish her studies. So, she divided her time and attention between school activities and doctors’ appointments as her symptoms continued to spiral downwards.
Those times showed Dani how it feels to live while remaining undiagnosed. More than ever, she became determined to become a clinician for people like her. Eventually, her sacrifices paid off and she graduated. As soon as she got her degree, Dani committed herself to taking care of her health.
Dani was diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, Mast Cell Activation Syndrome, Gastroparesis, Spinal Instability, and an immune deficiency called Selective Antibody Deficiency. Her complex condition drove her to be wary about the future. She was desperate to seek validation from other people. “I was angry, bitter, and hyperfocused on every symptom,” Dani said. She felt stuck because of her condition, but she remained determined to get back on her feet within six months.
Three years later, Dani is still fighting her complex health condition. But instead of basking in the negative mindset she had been stuck with for so long, Dani decided that enough was enough. In time, she accepted her illness and gave herself the grace to face her limitations. “Slowly, I started to do things again. I wasn’t waiting until I got better to do things. I learned how to receive validation from myself so that I don’t seek it from others anymore,” said Dani. Eventually, her mindset set her free, and that was when Dani truly blossomed.
With her spirit mended, Dani built her business literally from her bed, two weeks immediately after major neurosurgery. Her brand aims not only to inspire but even more so to empower other people living with chronic illness to take their destiny into their own hands. Her platform is a safe space for everyone and makes them feel understood and not alone. “We focus on cultivating joy, happiness, and contentment rather than just living to avoid pain,” said Dani.
On top of her blog, Dani is also a disabled model and currently has a medical device implanted on her chest called a port-a-cath. She wants to represent people with the same condition to increase opportunities for them in the fashion industry. Presently, Dani is also working as a telehealth physical therapist and consultant for care regarding her complex genetic condition. She has an integral role to educate providers and create a coordinated network of various healthcare providers to revolutionize care for patients like herself.
“I’ve defied odds in the past, but my story is about continual dedication and perseverance. It’s how I’m taking everything in stride and making the best out of it in the best way that I know how,” Dani said. Despite her circumstances, Dani is living life to the fullest, and she wants to amplify how hope got her through her darkest times. She suffered losing her identity to her illness and Dani wants people to understand that resilience can lead them back to themselves again.