Why I Walk : Caridad Mendoza
Caridad Mendoza was a nurse practitioner all her life. She spent 25 years in a demanding job at the University of Miami Hospital, where she dedicated herself to helping children with AIDS and cancer.
Around five years ago, she stared experiencing arthritis, fatigue, body pain and fibromyalgia. She received many different diagnoses, but no one could identify the root of the problem. Her symptoms progressed to the point where it was difficult for her to continue working and eventually, she had to file for disability. It wasn't until four years ago that a doctor correctly diagnosed her with lupus.
Lupus is an autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissue. It can affect the skin, joints, kidneys, brain and other organs. There is no known cure.
Mendoza will be among the thousands who gather at Miami’s Jungle Island on Saturday, Sept. 27 for Walk to End Lupus Now. The event raises awareness, support and research dollars for the victims of lupus. She and her team of 35 supporters, known as “Team Caridad,” will be participating in their third walk. They raised $6,000 last year and hope to raise even more this year.
“I feel like lupus has a stigma attached to it - people think it’s all in your head,” she said. “When I was first diagnosed, I felt like I had no one to turn to, but the Lupus Foundation has provided a tremendous amount of support.”