Why I Walk: Jessica Kirshenbaum
On Saturday, February 22nd, Jessica Kirshenbaum will Walk to End Lupus Now because she lives with the ongoing, daily battle with lupus and knows that one day she may not be able to walk. The Walk to End Lupus Now event being held at Mercato in Naples brings together hundreds of people who rally together to increase awareness of lupus, a cruel and mysterious disease that affects over 100,000 Floridians. Jessica was an ambitious and outgoing senior in college when she began experiencing severe skin breakouts, extreme fatigue, and chronic upper respiratory, ear and sinus infections that had her living on antibiotics. After being attended to by multiple specialists in different states with different diagnoses, they were unaware of what she had until her dermatologist had an “a-ha” moment and sent her to a rheumatologist. It took 10 years, but she finally received a diagnosis – Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE).
“I had never been so thankful for a firm diagnosis in my life,” says Jessica. “The side effects of many of the drugs have ranged from eye damage, uncontrollable weight gain, low platelets, and vomiting, just to name a few… There’s no quick and easy fix for a person like myself living with lupus but rather an ongoing battle to live each day to the fullest.”
Jessica started Team Kirsh to raise awareness of lupus and to walk for a cure “because I can’t guarantee that I’ll be able to walk tomorrow along with many other people like me who suffer with this debilitating, frustrating, confusing, and painful disease.”