Life as a College Student Living with Lupus
My name is Janya Sims, and I am a Lupus Survivor. I was diagnosed with Lupus in 2012 at age 12. I am currently an 18-year-old junior studying Biology Pre-Med at Georgia State University. I plan to attend the Medical College of Georgia to become a rheumatologist .
When I was first diagnosed with Lupus, my family was devastated because this was our first-time hearing of this disease. My mom then decided to google the disease and all she could find was that life expectancy of a person facing Lupus was not good. We were referred to the Children’s Hospital of Georgia where I met my rheumatologist Dr. Jerath and Nurse Barbara. Life was hard being newly diagnosed with lupus. I could barely eat (until I was put on prednisone), I was always tired, weak, and fatigued. I had the butterfly mask on my face, and it was very hard going to school at this point because I was teased for almost everything. I was teased because I had “acne” all over my face, I was teased because I was too skinny, then after taken prednisone, for being “too fat.” At this point in my life, I was very depressed because I wasn’t able to go to school because being at school would make me tired and weak, so I had to be homeschooled for a while. As I got older, I learned to forgive the children that bullied me, because kids do not really understand how their actions affect others.
When I was around 16, I became a part of this study called belimumab treatment in children with lupus. This is when I met my Study Nurse Heidi, who is an angel sent from above. I am currently still apart of the study, and I travel Augusta to get infusions each month.
I graduated from Tift County High School in May 2017 at age 17 with Superior Honors. Then life took a turn when I decided to go to Atlanta for college at Georgia State University. Adjusting to the weather, and the pace of the city was my toughest challenge. A country girl going to the big city was a huge stepping stone, but I am managing it. Living Life as a College Student with Lupus is challenging, but by the grace of God, I am able to make it through every day. There are several struggles that I face, but I tend to have more good days than bad. I had to learn to have open communication with my professors and let them know when I would have good or bad days. Somedays the Lupus sneaks up on me and I become fatigue or have high temperatures, but I just continue to tell myself to keep moving. I am so thankful to have such a great support system: my family and friends, who check on me regularly to make sure life is still going great.
While being a college student living with lupus, I had to learn to know my limits. I am very involved on campus being an active member of several organizations while at the same time trying to maintain a relatively high GPA. Soon I will be graduating and heading to Medical School to become a rheumatologist to help those who face some of the same challenges that I do.
An encouraging piece of advice that I would give a college student facing lupus would be first, that it is imperative that you take your medications and journal anytime you have any Lupus Symptoms (pain, fever, etc.) Second would be to set goals and achieve them, one thing that helps me achieve my goals is to write them out and see them. Lastly do not let your Lupus dictate your social life, instead be a social butterfly and be open to new experiences even if it makes you uncomfortable. Step out of your comfort zone!
Until next time my beautiful Lupie sisters and brothers! Stay Strong! Don’t Give Up!