Apr. 01, 2014

My Life With Lupus, For the Better

by Mallory Dixon

As I approach my 28th birthday, I’ve started to do what I do every year around this time – I reflect on everything I've been through the past year. I look back on it all—the good, the bad, and even the ugly. As I look back at the glory year of 27, I can’t help but be amazed at everything I have been through and experienced. I moved back to the city where I almost lost my life, gained a whole new team of doctors, spoke in front of more than 400 people at the hospital that saved my life, and even appeared as a guest on Kathie Lee and Hoda on The Today Show. When I look back at all of these wonderful things, one thing surprises me the most; none of this would have been possible if I had not been diagnosed with lupus.

From the time I was 17 years old, I have been in and out of hospitals, fighting this unpredictable disease. Starting off in my joints, lupus has now spread to my heart, lungs, kidneys, nervous system and any other organ it feels like attacking on a daily basis. I have spent more than 150 days in a hospital bed due to lupus, with my longest standing run lasting a whopping 86 days in a row. I have been through chemotherapy, many blood transfusions, dialysis, plasma exchanges, multiple ventilations, a tracheotomy, and even needed to relearn how to walk. 

Fighting this disease over the past ten years has not been an easy ride. There have been many dark hours, but what I have found to be true is that, out of those dark hours, come many more rays of sunshine and light. I tell people all the time that the worst experiences of my life, due to lupus, have become the best experiences of my life.

After appearing on the Today Show, the amount of people who reached out to me, letting me know how I impacted their life, truly touched my heart. Whether it came from someone in the lupus community or a complete stranger, I was honored that my story of struggle and adversity in facing this challenge touched someone. Recently, I was asked to speak with a special family, including a young boy facing a struggle similar to the one that I faced while I was in the hospital. Sharing my story with him and his family, and giving them hope, was the most rewarding and humbling experience ever. It reminded me that, no matter what disease we are facing or struggling with in life—we can get through it together because we are not alone. Lupus has allowed me to take my complicated story and inspire all different types of people from all walks of life, and for that, I wouldn't trade lupus for anything!

Lupus has taught me to be strong. It has taught me to not be scared and to live life without fear. But, most importantly lupus has taught me to never let it define me, but for me to always define lupus. I know in my heart of hearts, if it wasn't for lupus, I would not be the strong, determined lady I am today. I will always be grateful for lupus teaching me to live each day to the fullest, and to live a life full of happiness and gratitude. 

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