Miss a day, miss a lot. Subscribe to The Defender's Top News of the Day. It's free.
As a student at the University of California, Santa Cruz, in 2012, 20-year-old Rochelle had a bright future ahead of her. She was studying biology on the pre-med track with straight A’s and was planning on becoming a veterinarian or physician.
Rochelle’s ambitions came crashing to a halt after she received Merck’s Gardasil HPV vaccine that year, which caused her to develop chronic health problems that continue to this day.
But that wouldn’t be the last time a vaccine wreaked havoc on Rochelle’s life — her mother and grandmother later sustained severe adverse reactions to COVID-19 vaccines. And in the case of her grandmother, Rochelle said, the COVID-19 vaccine led to death.
In an exclusive interview with The Defender, Rochelle, now 30, shared her story, and her mother and grandmother’s stories. She asked that her full name and those of her family members be withheld, but provided The Defender with documentation to corroborate her account.
‘I felt as though my brain had turned into scrambled eggs’
Rochelle told The Defender that her father, grandfather and brother all became doctors, and her mother, Marcia, was a nurse. Coming from a family of medical practitioners, “I was conditioned to always trust doctors since a young age,” she said.
Still, when Rochelle took the Gardasil vaccine in 2012, she did so “after some hesitation” after a family member had a “severe reaction” to the vaccine, which resulted in Guillain-Barré Syndrome.
Doctors told Rochelle her family member’s reaction “was an extremely unlucky ‘one-in-a-million’ effect” and that the vaccine was “extremely safe.”
But this didn’t turn out to be the case for Rochelle, who told The Defender:
“After the first vaccine, I felt nothing except a sore arm. After the second vaccine, I had a dissociative episode for several days — out-of-body sensation, extreme anxiety, felt like I was ‘on drugs’ — but was told this was due to anxiety [and] school-related stress.
“The feeling passed, and I did not make the connection to the vaccine.”
Symptoms significantly worsened, though, after Rochelle received her third dose of the Gardasil vaccine:
“After the third vaccine, I felt as though my brain had turned into scrambled eggs. I had episodes of severe dissociation, difficulty thinking clearly and extreme anxiety which seemed to have a buzzing physical/neurological sensation more than [being] psychological [or] stress-related.
“I felt as though my internal wiring was being fried, yet I didn’t have the ability to understand or explain what was happening — and at the time (due to immense gaslighting), I still did not realize the vaccine could have caused this effect.”
Rochelle’s psychiatrist told her she was experiencing a stress-induced panic attack, but according to Rochelle, “There was no mental or psychological explanation to explain the extreme and abnormal buzzing, electrical sensation within my brain.”
She said she’s never felt normal since that third dose. “My brain never felt the same. I struggled in physics and chemistry coursework, which used to come easily to me, and my brain fog [and] lack of mental clarity was at an all-time high.”
“I was still unaware of what was happening to me — being told it was psychological/stress-induced — and was given pharmaceuticals to treat the worsening mental (anxiety, depression, dissociative spells, cognitive issues) and dermatological (cystic acne) symptoms which erupted afterwards.”
The pharmaceuticals caused even more severe health problems, she said.
— Robert F. Kennedy Jr (@RobertKennedyJr) September 29, 2022
‘Everything was stolen from me’
Years of chronic illness followed for Rochelle. Her symptoms included “fibromyalgia, POTS [postural orthostatic tachycardia], severe ME/CFS [myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome], a connective tissue disorder, arthritis, neuropathy, migraines, visual snow syndrome — a sign of neurotoxicity — and dozens of other symptoms.”
Yet despite visits to “dozens of doctors,” a diagnosis connecting her chronic symptoms to the Gardasil vaccine did not follow for several years. According to Rochelle, similar to experiences described by other vaccine injury victims, doctors instead engaged in “gaslighting” her.
“[Doctors] have all told me different theories about my health issues — gaslighting or telling me it’s ‘all in my head’ is the most common,” said Rochelle. “None of them have provided me with any answers or solutions.”
While “a few alternative [and] holistically minded physicians” acknowledged a connection between Rochelle’s symptoms and the Gardasil vaccine — and the pharmaceutical products prescribed to her to treat her conditions — “all conventionally trained doctors have refused to acknowledge that my illnesses could be iatrogenic in nature.”
“The fact that all of my physical health problems did not occur immediately after exposure to Gardasil and other pharmaceuticals (delayed onset toxicity),” said Rochelle, “is part of the reason physicians failed to acknowledge the connection.”
Indeed, it was several years before a conventional doctor drew a partial connection between Rochelle’s symptoms and Gardasil toxicity. According to Rochelle:
“It wasn’t until a few years later, when I had a conversation with a doctor familiar with Gardasil toxicity and pharmaceutical iatrogenesis, [that I] finally connect[ed] my initial onset of neurological problems to the Gardasil vaccine.
“The other physical health issues cannot be connected to Gardasil with certainty. They may have been caused by the pharmaceuticals I took after Gardasil, although it is possible that the AAHS [amorphous aluminium hydroxyphosphate sulfate] adjuvant in the Gardasil vaccine may have contributed to these problems, as … many others harmed by Gardasil have these same issues.”
“What I can say with certainty,” said Rochelle, “is that my brain and cognition [and] memory was never the same after Gardasil.”
Many of these conditions and symptoms affect Rochelle to this day.
“Unfortunately, the severe chronic health problems I developed from Gardasil — and the other pharmaceuticals I took after my Gardasil reaction — left me extremely debilitated, almost entirely bedridden and physically unable to pursue my dream career,” said Rochelle, who is unable to work a full-time job because of the severe pain, fatigue and neurological symptoms she experiences on a daily basis.
“I live by the ‘spoon theory’ philosophy,” she said. “I only have enough ‘spoons’ to do a limited amount of activities within each day.”
“One day, I may be able to do laundry and a couple of basic chores, and the next day I may be able to go grocery shopping,” she said. “But I cannot do both activities in the same day, or else I will be left 100% bedridden for days at a time.”
Rochelle said she lives independently, but that this poses an additional set of challenges for her. “There are days when I go without eating food because I am in too much pain to grocery shop and cook,” she said, adding that she has lost a significant amount of weight.
“Everything has been stolen” from her, she said, adding:
“My illnesses impact every single aspect of my life: my relationships, career opportunities, ability to have a family and own a home, my freedom and independence — everything has been stolen from me at such a young age.
“There is not a single aspect of my life that these chronic illnesses do not interfere with and I constantly worry for my future and my ability to survive.”
Rochelle eventually stopped taking all pharmaceutical treatments and instead sought holistic and alternative treatments. However, according to her, “none of them worked or helped to improve any of my symptoms.”
“I am taking low-dose naltrexone right now and it reduces the severity and frequency of my migraines but it does not help with the physical pain and severe ME/CFS symptoms, which are the most debilitating,” she added.
“At this point, the damage to my body from the Gardasil vaccine and pharmaceuticals was likely too severe to be reversed.”
Rochelle attributes her health troubles today to the faith she placed in conventional doctors and their refusal to diagnose a connection between her conditions and symptoms, and the Gardasil vaccine. She told The Defender:
“The biggest mistake I made after my adverse effects from Gardasil was to trust conventional allopathic physicians and take their toxic pharmaceuticals, which made my health worse and caused more problems.
“At the time, I was heavily gaslit and still unaware of the connection between my neurological symptoms and Gardasil. I was young, on my parents’ insurance plan and was not offered any holistic or alternative therapies — nor was I aware of that being an option.”
Mother’s COVID vaccine injuries ‘came like a bulldozer,’ felt like ‘a vise grip’
According to Rochelle, her mother was “slightly hesitant” to get the vaccine, “but was told she would need to have it in order to see her mother … in the nursing home.”
As a result, Marcia received both doses of the Moderna vaccine in the spring of 2021. Adverse events followed soon after the first dose.
According to Rochelle:
“About 10 days after the first shot, she experienced flu-like achiness and pain throughout her body that lasted several days. She wasn’t sure if it was a virus, perhaps COVID-19. She didn’t connect the dots to the vaccine and [the symptoms] eventually went away, so she took the second dose.”
Soon after the second dose though, Marcia began to experience more severe adverse events.
“Shortly after her second shot, her body rapidly fell apart,” Rochelle said. “She says it ‘came like a bulldozer running me down.’ It felt as if her entire body was ‘in a vise grip.’
Rochelle said her mother described the stiffness as feeling like someone “took off her head and poured cement into her body.”
For several weeks, Rochelle’s mother didn’t know what was happening. “But when she saw a rheumatologist, she was diagnosed with polymyalgia rheumatica (PMR), which her doctor said was induced by the vaccine.”
According to Rochelle, the doctor had “seen multiple other cases in his practice shortly after the Moderna and Pfizer shots.”
Marcia’s PMR “caused severe inflammation throughout her body,” leading to “spontaneous tendon ruptures and a lower back disc herniation,” said Rochelle. In addition, “she tore her thumb tendon just by moving her hand normally and required urgent surgery to repair it.”
Rochelle said her mother will also need several surgeries for complete tendon tears in her shoulder, and may potentially need spine surgery to repair her herniated disc.
Marcia also “now needs to take prednisone — a dangerous medication with its own serious side effects and risks — to manage the inflammation and pain,” said Rochelle, whose mother says “her pain levels are 10/10 without it.”
For a long period of time, Marcia was unable to perform basic tasks, including walking, bathing or dressing herself, Rochelle said.
“She needed to use a wheelchair and be carried from the car because of the severe pain, weakness and ripping of her connective tissues.”
Prednisone helped somewhat, but Marcia still suffers daily from pain that severely limits her abilities and activities.
“She was very healthy and active prior to her Moderna vaccines, swimming or hiking every day while doing all of the daily household chores and managing rental properties and family finances with ease,” Rochelle said.
Now her mother is limited in her ability to do these things, and the prednisone is also having negative effects on her bones.
Marcia still experiences “PMR, damage to her shoulder and thumb tendons, disc herniation [and] severe debilitating pain and inflammation throughout her body.”
Unlike her own vaccine injury, Rochelle said the severity of her mother’s symptoms and the close proximity of their onset to her vaccination, made it “harder for the connection to be ignored.”
She told The Defender:
“Unlike with my chronic health problems, my mother’s rheumatologist immediately acknowledged that the Moderna shot caused her PMR. The reason for this is likely the sheer number of cases of vaccine-induced PMR and other inflammatory/autoimmune rheumatic diseases he’s recently seen in his practice.
“Also, because she developed PMR very suddenly and shortly after her Moderna vaccine — within days — it was harder for the connection to be ignored.”
According to Rochelle, her mother’s rheumatologist “admitted that he’s seen a shocking amount of new-onset autoimmune illnesses as well as worsening [and] flares of pre-existing illnesses since the COVID vaccination program.”
Marcia is now in the difficult position of having to choose between a degree of pain relief provided by prednisone, and being subject to its longer-term health effects, which include osteoporosis, hair loss, thinning skin and potential adrenal insufficiency or further organ and connective tissue damage.
“It is not a safe drug and I am worried about her using it,” Rochelle said, “but right now, it’s the only thing keeping her from wanting to die due to the severely unmanageable pain caused by PMR.”
Marcia uses low-dose naltrexone to help her taper the prednisone, but it is still a very slow process, Rochelle said. “Each time she lowers her dose of prednisone she has another severe pain flare.”
Grandmother’s death following COVID vaccine deemed ‘age-related’
What happened to Rochelle after getting the HPV vaccine, and her mother, Marcia, after getting the COVID-19 vaccine was bad enough — but not as bad as what happened to Rochelle’s grandmother, Jean, who died “within a few weeks” of her COVID-19 shot, Rochelle said.
According to Rochelle:
“My grandma’s first Pfizer shot was relatively uneventful as far as we know, but after her second shot, she lost the ability to speak.
“She was older and already suffering with physical weakness and dementia/cognitive decline, but she was still able to talk in complete sentences on the phone and she still knew who we were.
“That all changed after her second shot.”
After her second dose, Jean “could no longer speak or communicate … and her health declined severely,” Rochelle said. “Within a few weeks, she was dead.”
Doctors refused to investigate Jean’s death, said Rochelle:
“Her doctors ruled her death as ‘age-related’ and refused to perform an autopsy but it is believed that she likely had a series of microstrokes leading to her aphasia and death.
“This occurred at the same time as my mother’s onset of vaccine-induced PMR.”
According to Rochelle, this is common practice among doctors following the deaths of elderly individuals who may have sustained vaccine-related adverse effects.
“Often with older people who die or are injured after a vaccine, old age is automatically assumed to be the cause — while the vaccines they were recently injected with are never questioned or blamed,” Rochelle said.
Rochelle: ‘vaccine and pharmaceutical injuries affected every aspect of my life’
Rochelle described her experience with vaccine and pharmaceutical injuries as having “affected every aspect of my personal life and relationships,” including her relationships with family members, who initially didn’t believe her story.
She told The Defender:
“For many years, my own family members did not believe me and thought I was crazy for blaming my health problems on vaccines [and] pharmaceuticals. I was told to ‘stop looking at online patient blogs’ and ridiculed by my own family for saying that vaccines and pharmaceuticals are unsafe or that they can cause long-lasting health problems.
“This ruined our relationship, and we did not see or speak with one another for many years.”
After Rochelle’s mother also sustained vaccine-related injuries, however, she changed her mind. According to Rochelle:
“Now my mother believes me — and she is also starting to understand why people have been speaking about the dangers of vaccines, in addition to many other lies within the medical establishment, for so many years.
“She listens to my efforts to educate her about vaccine injuries, including Gardasil deaths and injuries and even the hidden autism epidemic.”
But convincing other family members is an uphill battle, she said.
“While my father acknowledges my mother’s vaccine injury, he still believes that vaccines help more than they harm — the medical indoctrination is deep.”
Despite what her father has seen within his own family — and friends who were also vaccine-injured — he refuses to acknowledge the fact that these injuries are not “rare,” Rochelle said.
Because her father is a doctor, Rochelle said acknowledging the danger of vaccines “would simply crush him.” He isn’t yet “willing to comprehend the scope of lies we have all been told.”
Like others injured by vaccines, Rochelle also has lost friendships.
“I’ve had ‘friends’ tell me that I am irresponsible and even ‘dangerous’ for speaking negatively about vaccines, that I’m crazy, anti-science, an ‘anti-vaxxer,’ stupid, illogical and even accuse me of being a ‘Republican’ or ‘Trump supporter,’ simply because I spoke about vaccine reactions.”
Speaking out on social media led to censorship, harassment, threats, ‘doxxing’
Like many other vaccine injury victims, Rochelle sought refuge and support on social media, including in the Vaccine Injury/Side Effects Support Group on Facebook, founded by another individual injured by vaccines, Catherine “Cat” Parker.
“It is nice to know that you’re not alone, and when other people in your life treat you like you are crazy, you can remind yourself that you aren’t,” said Rochelle.
“People can be extraordinarily cruel to those who speak about vaccine injuries,” she added. “This is due to their own ignorance and brainwashing, but sometimes you still need to cut these toxic people out of your life because they will never understand it unless [and] until it happens to them.”
“For now, it is important to believe and support others,” she says, “and to share your story to raise awareness that these injuries are real, not rare.”
However, sharing her story also subjected Rochelle to a heavy dose of censorship, harassment, and threats — another parallel with the experience of many other vaccine-injured individuals.
“My Facebook and Instagram accounts, which I had for 10 and five years, respectively, were eventually permanently deleted because I spoke about what the vaccines did to my family,” she said.
Rochelle said her TikTok account was also deleted, adding that she eventually started a new Facebook account, where she is now “a member of several Facebook groups for COVID vaccine injury.” However, she said, “I speak about it carefully, using symbols,” in an attempt to avoid further censorship.
Rochelle also encountered “online hate mobs” who harassed and threatened her and members of her family. She said:
“I tried to speak about my family’s vaccine reactions publicly, and received even more hate [and] harassment. I made a few videos about it on TikTok, where I was targeted by several healthcare professionals who used their platform, with tens of thousands of followers, to target and harass me with a hate mob harassing me and my family.
“I was called dumb, stupid, crazy, dangerous, ‘mentally ill,’ accused of lying and told I needed to ‘get mental help,’ simply because I shared my family’s story.”
Certain individuals even attempted to damage her father’s medical career, a practice popularly known as “doxxing.”
“Several people within this online hate mob looked up my family’s contact information and called my father’s hospital, where he directs the intensive care unit, attempting to get him fired and to have his license removed — all of this because I simply said that the COVID vaccines harmed my family.”
Rochelle said she doesn’t understand “the logic” of those who accuse the vaccine-injured of lying or making up injuries just to get attention.
“Why would we risk being hated, ostracized, ridiculed, mocked, insulted and shunned by the medical community, family members, friends and general public?” she asked.
“There are thousands of us who gain nothing and risk to lose everything by speaking out, and yet we still do, because we are suffering immensely and the truth is important to us,” said Rochelle. “To think we would lie about vaccine injuries for our own benefit is completely senseless.”