On June 6th, my 29th birthday, I will be celebrating life by leading my team in Chicago's Walk to End Lupus Now®. After being diagnosed with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) in 2018, I decided that lupus chose the wrong woman. I want to spread awareness and raise funds to fight this cruel, mysterious, often invisible, and widely misunderstood disease. With lupus, the body's immune system mistakenly attacks its own healthy organ systems. It is unpredictable, has no known cause, and no known cure. I want to change that.
It’s difficult to pinpoint the exact moment I knew something was off in my body. Fragile joints, heat strokes, recurring infections, migraines, numbness, widespread pain, debilitating fatigue -- only some of the many symptoms I suffered for over 10 years before finally receiving a diagnosis in 2018. Doctors continually dismissed me, so I learned to dismiss myself. Unfortunately, this is more often than not the case with lupus and other invisible illnesses (many of which affect women at a much higher rate). So, even though it took a bad flare-up to finally get answers, I am thankful that a doctor took me seriously and identified the underlying condition that had infiltrated so many parts of my life. Connecting the widespread symptomatic dots meant I wasn’t crazy and it meant I could finally take back control of my life. It has been 2 years since I started treatment and incorporated positive lifestyle changes. While I’m not in remission, my levels are stable. I don’t know if I’ll ever be symptom free, but I’m learning to manage the condition with the help of my supportive family and friends.
Yes, there are treatments for lupus, but these are not cures. Lupus is a chronic condition with a cause that’s still a mystery. Yes, we know certain things can aggravate the condition, and we learn to avoid these things. But lupus is tricky and relentless; it can still flare up at any time without warning. The looming threat of an unpredictable flare-up is a constant fear amongst those of us living with this condition; not to mention, the many undiagnosed people who are suffering in the dark. This is why raising money for research, support, education, and advocacy programs is so important.
I invite you to learn more about the Lupus Foundation of America and the great work we're doing to fight lupus. You can give a secure gift online directly to my walk page and/or you can join my Squid Squad to walk with me!