Nicole Arceneaux: “I’ve finally decided I’m tougher than lupus”
After being diagnosed nearly three years ago with lupus, 45-year-old Nicole Arceneaux vowed to get control of this silent and unpredictable disease.
Three hospital stays and five months of chemotherapy later, she considers herself a lupus warrior. She credits the help of a phenomenal support system of family, friends, colleagues and the doctors at New York-Presbyterian Hospital for helping her re-affirm her commitment to not giving up the fight.
In truth, her fight has been brutal. She was embarrassed and felt ashamed. She walked with her head down and ignored emails and invitations from friends. Her text messages were short.
She grew tired of explaining why she looked different or walked slower than normal. She was angry and questioned why this had happened to her. Then she made the decision to change her perspective. She stopped feeling sorry for herself and started focusing on the people in her life who showered her with unconditional love, encouragement and support.
Since her diagnosis, Nicole has worked with her doctors on managing her disease. Acupuncture and Reiki has worked for her for reducing stress and promoting relaxation. If you are newly-diagnosed, she stresses the importance of wellness. She also recommends asking a lot of questions during doctor appointments and doing your research to help you manage the illness based on your unique needs and circumstances. Lastly, she suggests finding people who will be there for you and developing a good support system that you can turn to when there are challenges.
On World Lupus Day this year, Nicole rode her bike from home (East Harlem) to work (Yankee Stadium in the Bronx) raising more than $5,000 for the Lupus Foundation of America. This was her way of demonstrating to her support system that she's feeling good, accepting her "new normal" and learning how to live with lupus.