Mar. 04, 2014

Why I Walk? For TEAM BRAVERLY

Participating in the Walk for Lupus Now™ Since 2008

Cristina Toro

I walk because lupus has changed my life. It has made me stronger: physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. I know this may seem hard to imagine, but I am in a much better place because of all the struggles lupus has put me through. It was especially difficult being separated from my baby for almost six months and not knowing what the next day would hold or if I would be stable enough to go home. In addition, I missed my own baby shower, my 30th birthday, all of my daughter London’s first holidays including 4th of July, Halloween and more.

I was diagnosed with lupus at age 22.  It was very difficult juggling school, work, a social life and having this debilitating disease.  Fatigue, body aches, swollen joints and chronic migraines were just some of the symptoms I had to deal with. Through the years I just learned to cope with the pain.

2010 was the most challenging year for me.  After giving birth to my first child, I faced multiple health complications. Having lupus and being pregnant, I was considered "high risk."  During my pregnancy I developed preeclampsia, gestational diabetes and breathing problems.  Due to these symptoms, at 36 weeks I was urged to have an emergency C-section. Within the first 1 ½ months after giving birth, I had two surgeries, dozens of blood transfusions, and was transferred in and out of ICU.  In the next few months my kidneys were failing, and I began to have seizures, pneumonia and chicken pox. After the final surgery, things took a turn for the worse. I was intubated for two weeks.  In five months, I was transferred to two more medical centers and was in and out of rehabilitation. 

I had always been self- reliant, but things were different when I returned home. Being hospitalized for so long left me weak and unable to stand or walk without assistance.  I could barely carry or feed my daughter London, let alone change her diapers.  I became depressed, bitter, helpless and hopeless. Exercise, eating healthy, being positive and staying focused was always recommended, but was a challenge for me to implement.  When I tried to start a healthy regimen, I would run into even more obstacles.  There were more bad days than good days: body aches, fatigue, headaches, car problems, financial & family conflicts—you name it—but I faced it all.  I played the cards I was dealt.

I've learned to take things day-by-day and set goals for myself. I've been participating in the Walk to End Lupus Now™ since 2008 (formerly Walk for Lupus Now®). One of my goals is to run a marathon in 2015.  I still have a great deal of work ahead of me but I finally feel in control of my life and my health.  I am at a place in my life where my health, happiness and my daughter are my only priorities. Everyone says I beat the odds and I know this!  I have always had a vision of myself as a strong woman.  I know I can do this can’t let this disease have the upper hand!

I am so thankful and blessed to have a family who cares for my wellbeing and supports me throughout my trials and tribulations. My mom, dad, boyfriend, brother & sister-in-law and my best friend just to name a few, are a huge part of my support system, without them I don't know where I would be. This is my story; this is why I walk to end lupus! For myself and my daughter: #TEAMBRAVERLY


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