Cherokee Carroll – Walking for The Days She Couldn’t
There have been days when Cherokee Carroll, 25, couldn’t walk to the bathroom, 10 feet from her bed. Days when she thought she’d pass out on the sidewalk trying to get back to her dorm after class. Days, even weeks, when she couldn’t move her legs, hands or fingers. There are still times when she has to rest when walking up a flight of stairs. But every year, she gathers together her family, friends and colleagues and heads to Washington, DC, for the Walk to End Lupus Now® event.
“I walk because there were so many days I could not,” she says.
It was in 2013 that the symptoms began. Painful rashes, crushing chest pain, glands so swollen you could feel them at slightest touch, and handfuls of hair in her comb. Digestive complications, headaches, weight loss, muscle pain and severe fatigue.
“Because most of the symptoms are invisible or appear seemingly harmless, lupus can be very deceiving,” Cherokee says. “I’ve heard time and time again, ‘You don’t look sick.’.”
That’s why she created a video, shot in black and white, for one of her Walk To End Lupus Now fundraising campaigns. ”I shared things about my illness and my innermost thoughts and feelings that I would not usually share. I think allowing people to see me that way made lupus real for them.”
And when Walk day finally arrives, “It’s kind of like a holiday for me,” Cherokee says. ”My family, friends, and colleagues all come with their Team Cherokee ‘swag’ and we take pictures and talk about past years and plan for years to come. It’s also a feeling of unity. I see so many people who are like me, or who were me. It’s reassuring to see others who know the silent struggle. It reminds me that I am not alone. When I see another ‘thriver’ it’s like we don’t even have to speak. You can feel the tired smile and hopeful eyes.”
Cherokee believes the walk and other Lupus Foundation of America programs allow her and others in the lupus community to have a voice – and it’s very personal. “The Foundation provides a platform for me to bring awareness to my community about an illness that primarily impacts people like me: young black women.”
Learn more about Walk To End Lupus Now or find an event in your area.