Curtisha Anderson: Becoming Her Own Best Advocate
One day in the emergency room completely changed Curtisha’s life at just 14 years old. Feeling overwhelmingly sick, she was quickly admitted to the hospital, and with routine lab work, the doctors discovered that her kidneys had failed. Shortly after, her care team contacted specialists, and Curtisha was diagnosed with lupus mere weeks after her hospital admittance.
Being diagnosed with lupus at the onset of her teenage years flipped her world upside down. Curtisha and her family had never heard of lupus before, and 31 years ago, few doctors had brochures or information on this disease. Between school and dialysis treatments, she often found herself researching books and magazine articles at the library to gain more information. Years later, she continues to stay updated on the latest research and learns everything she can about her diagnosis.
Lupus affected both her physical and mental well-being. Curtisha’s days were consumed with dialysis treatments, making it challenging to enjoy her adolescence. Over the years, however, she has developed a strong support system of family, friends, fellow lupus warriors and even people on social media. Although it is sometimes easier said than done, Curtisha always tries to find something positive in her lupus journey. She is passionate about raising awareness of lupus and empowering people to advocate for their health.
"Anytime you’re experiencing symptoms that are new for you, always go to the doctor to have it checked out. And if that doctor dismisses you, find another. Sometimes we have to be our own advocates."
Lupus disproportionately impacts Black women, and the health care space is often fraught with implicit bias that may prevent the best care. Black individuals are statistically less likely to seek care, whether it be from barriers to accessing care or previous prejudices they have faced. Curtisha encourages people who are struggling to seek support to not give up on finding someone who is going to listen. “Even if you run into a situation where no one believes you, eventually you will find someone who will. You should be your number one priority. Be your best advocate,” she advises.
Curtisha has found a home with the Lupus Foundation of America (LFA). She volunteers her time with the LFA and stays connected with her local chapter. Recently, she attended a convention and passed out information at her booth about lupus, while sharing her experiences with others. As a lupus ambassador, Curtisha is able to share her story with many within her local community, describing the importance of seeking help and how to live a good life with lupus.
In 2017, Curtisha received a kidney transplant: “I can overcome more things than I thought I could. I am a warrior.”
This Black History Month, we are putting a focus on Elevating Black Lupus Voices, and we do not take the implicit bias in healthcare or other related disparities lightly. The Lupus Foundation of America continues to work hard to break down barriers to care and health equity and is here for you at every step of your journey with programs, resources and support services including:
- Local support with 125 support groups, community-based resources and referrals
- Health Education Specialists, LFA staff trained to provide free non-medical support, disease education, information and relevant resources
- SELF: Strategies to Embrace Living with Lupus Fearlessly, our online self-management program
- Meaning and importance of self-advocacy
- Getting the most from your medical appointments
- How to find a new doctor
Like Curtisha, you can be your own best advocate and we are here to support you.