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Thirty-One Faces of Hope: Joelle May

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. 


Meet Joelle May

Hello, my name is Joelle. I was diagnosed with lupus in September 2001. I was rushed to Harlem hospital at 9 pm. At midnight I was rushed downtown to Mount Sinai. I told my ex husband to call my parents. I wasn’t coming home.

I was informed my kidneys had failed and that I had lupus. I did dialysis twice. My kidneys started working in the middle of my second session. Over the years, my kidneys have repaired themselves.

I am officially diagnosed with SLE, polymyositis, Reynauds, heart murmur, low white blood count, memory loss, nerve issues, scalp issues and a few other things. I had to have both hips replaced due to taking prednisone.

When I became ill. I had just begun taking continuing education classes in Metalsmithing at FIT. I was making beaded jewelry and wanted to expand my knowledge. After being diagnosed, I had a major issue with arthritis in my hands. I could no longer make jewelry.

Life happened. I had many ups and downs. I dealt with weight gain from prednisone. My hair has fallen out three times. I’ve had rashes from head to toe. I’ve cried. I’ve laughed. I’ve gotten divorced. I’ve started over.

After my divorce, I moved to the Atlanta area. With the goal of recreating my life. Getting more involved with The Lupus Foundation. Being the best person I could be.

Two years ago. I started making jewelry again. Recently I purchased a home. I’m currently working on a book. It’s been a struggle. However, I have taken all of my goals off of the shelf. Dusted them off. Implemented them one by one.

My goal is to show people you can live with a chronic illness. You may have to adjust. You may have to move a little slower. But, you can still live a reasonable life and enjoy everyday. It won’t be easy. But, it can be done.

I mentor, I raise money for the Lupus Walk. I am a community ambassador for The Lupus Foundation, Georgia Chapter. All of these things are my therapy. It helps me get through my days. It’s my way of giving back to my community.