WYOMING, Mich. (WOOD) - Darlene Yasick's family has known heartache and loss but it's a well of hope, deep faith and unending love that has gotten them through the toughest of times.
"If you don't have hope, then there is nothing," said Yasick.
Her family suffered its first loss in 1989.
"My husband passed away in 1989. At the time that he died, we didn't know what the cause was. He was 48 years old."
But it wasn't until years later they would find that it was something called Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome -- a deadly genetic disease -- that killed him.
Since Yasick's husband Gene died, she has lost three sons and a grandson to EDS.
Yasick describes it as a "nightmare and you can't wake up from up it."
According to the Ehlers-Danlos National Foundation, those that have EDS "have a defect in their connective tissue, the tissue that provides support to many body parts such as the skin, muscles and ligaments. The fragile skin and unstable joints found in EDS are the result of faulty collagen. Collagen is a protein, which acts as a 'glue' in the body, adding strength and elasticity to connective tissue."
That means, essentially, that EDS weakens the bonds that hold organs, vessels and arteries together.
There are six different kinds of EDS. All five of Yasick's family members who died had the Vascular Type -- the most serious form, according to the Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome Network.
The Vascular Type of EDS can lead to the sudden rupturing of arteries or organs as the result of even minor trauma.
"There is no treatment. There is no therapy. Right now, there is nothing if you have it you have it," Yasick said.
The deadly disease struck the family again in 2006 with the death of Yasick's son Steve at age 40. In 2010, EDS took her soon Tom, age 42. In the spring of 2013, it was her son Michael, 49, who died due to the disease.
Then on Saturday, her grandson Christopher -- Michael's son -- died. He was only 25 years old.
And the family recently found out Yasick's 6-year-old grandson also has the disease.
"For us, it's like, what's the end? It just keeps happening and happening until there is no one left for it to happen to," Yasick said.
She said its hard to deal with over and over again.
"When your kids are little, you can fix things for them. But when they get older, there is nothing you can do. And there is nothing we can do here. It is what it is," Yasick said.
But she is proud of the men of her family.
"Each of them, even Christopher who was so young, has left their mark on the people around them by the men that they were," she said. "There is no way that I could have been prouder of them. Even though they were not here as long as we would have like them, they've left us with so much in memory and faith and the things they have accomplished."
As she sat in her living room Tuesday afternoon, she read a Bible passage she has read many times since the death of her grandson:
"Lord Jesus, grant me a strong faith and an unwavering trust in you. Help me especially in times of trial when everything appears bleak. You seem far away and I am afraid."
According to the Ehlers-Danlos National Foundation, the vascular form of EDS affects about one in every 250,000 people.
It is widely believed that many more die from this disease, but it isn't recorded because many who die from it don't know they had it.
Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome Network
Ehlers-Danlos National Foundation
GRAM Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony in front of a festive downtown crowd at Rosa Parks Circle Friday night.
Two people were taken to the hospital after one vehicle crossed the center line, causing a head-on crash in Ada Township Friday night.
A mob of people hit the streets and set fires in East Lansing in the wake of Michigan State's win over Ohio State Saturday night.