I was diagnosed with lupus nephritis in March of 2016 when I was 13 years old. My lupus was finally diagnosed after having a kidney biopsy in the hospital. That was not fun. I had to spend several days in the hospital recovering from the biopsy and starting my treatment. I felt like the world was crashing down on me. But, I figured if God gave me this challenge, I was going to learn about the disease and do what I could to beat it and help others living with lupus.
My family and I attended several conferences hosted by the Lupus Foundation of America, Heartland Chapter and participated in their St. Louis Walk to End Lupus Now. That is where we learned about their Summer Jam Youth Retreat —a weekend summer camp for girls like me, who are living with lupus.
I was nervous about going at first, but was able to bring a friend to camp with me who wanted to know more about what I was going through. We learned that there were other girls who were also living with the challenges of lupus and that the disease affects everyone differently. The other campers shared their experiences and that helped put my mind at ease concerning some of the treatments that were being planned for me. We shared a lot of laughter and tears too. I made new friendships with others who were going through what I was going through.
Trout Lodge was a great location for camp and provided a stress free environment. I really enjoyed the activities such as archery, canoeing, karaoke, and singing around the campfire. The most powerful part of camp is the bond we all share. Although we are only together for a few days, it feels like we have known each other much longer. Knowing I am surrounded by girls who have endured similar hardships is comforting and makes me feel less alone.
Even though I was nervous about attending the retreat, I didn’t want to leave at the end of the weekend. I look forward to returning next year and hopefully, for many years to come. I know this will be a lifelong battle, but this retreat has helped tremendously in my healing. Thank you for making this retreat available to kids like me.
St. Charles, MO