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Thirty-One Faces of Hope: Callie Payne

The lupus community includes people living with lupus, friends, family and supporters across Georgia. For Lupus Awareness Month, we would like to highlight some of our lupus heroes and champions. 


Callie Payne, Georgia Educator

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I just finished my 18th year of teaching. The last six years I have taught kindergarten and found my happy place.

When I was a teenager, I had many symptoms of an autoimmune disease that were not put together by the different doctors. After my first year of teaching, I was diagnosed. Due to my circumstances—first-year teacher, a woman, a mom of a two-year-old, and living in a new state--I could have been told I was just tired. But I pushed and demanded all tests be run. My initial diagnosis was Sjogren’s Syndrome, but due to a few hospital stays, lupus was added. I knew what that meant. My grandfather had bravely dealt with lupus for thirty years after his diagnosis in 1970 caused him to retire at 54 as a mail carrier partly because of the sun an heat. No one had heard of lupus at that time.

I am honored to be one of the GA Chapter 31 Faces of Hope. I have respect for the hard work of the GA Chapter on behalf of all of us with lupus and our families. My goal is to help educators know more about pediatric lupus that is often misunderstood.  I want to help administrators and coworkers better understand the constant battle those of us with lupus face as we still perform our duties. My biggest battle is recess. Fortunately, I have amazing coworkers that have always helped me.

I recognize it is difficult for those around me because I put my mask on daily and do not look sick. I use the “spoon theory” that we all have limitations.  I put all of my spoons into my students and the other requirements teaching brings these days. So almost no spoons remain for weddings, baby showers, and friend time. I am fortunate to have a supportive group of friends who understand that “yes, I want to participate, but I will have to let you know five minutes before the event starts.” The spoon theory has been helpful for those around me to understand my limitations. 

The GA Chapter has provided a community where I am accepted without question.

- Callie Payne