Felicia T. - Diagnosed Age 13
I was diagnosed with lupus at the end of my 8th grade year. I had been in the sun that week and came home with a rash across my face that didn’t go away for a week. I also had Raynaud’s Phenomenon, where my fingers and toes would turn yellow or blue and get numb when it was cold. A week later, I saw a dermatologist who said I might have lupus. I got some blood tests done and a rheumatologist confirmed, then diagnosed me with lupus. At 13 years old, my family and I had no clue what the disease entailed.
For years, my lupus varied between being in remission and flare ups. In high school, I was taken to the ER for severe chest pain. I was in so much pain every time I breathed. The doctors said I was experiencing pleurisy, or inflammation of the lungs. When I was in college, I noticed I had a lot of swelling in my legs and was going to the bathroom really frequently. A nephrologist diagnosed me with lupus nephritis, or kidney disease. Since then, I’ve had multiple kidney biopsies, hospital stays, blood transfusions due to anemia, and been on many different treatments.
My journey with lupus has been a roller coaster. I went through stages of being upset and feeling sorry for myself. It was difficult for others to understand. I didn’t have many visible symptoms, so they assumed I was always healthy. Many times I felt I had to explain that even though I didn’t look sick on the outside, my body was fighting me on the inside. Now, I’m a huge advocate for lupus and lupus research. During Lupus Awareness Month, I wear my lupus bracelet and educate others about the disease. I’m thankful for all the experiences I’ve had with lupus because each one has made me a stronger person.
Even though I live with lupus, it hasn’t stopped me from accomplishing my dreams of being a teacher. Now I’m a 2nd grade teacher in Redwood City, California. There are definitely days where I’m more fatigued, immunosuppressed, and just feeling sick, but I stay positive through all the support.
Lupus has changed my life in many ways and the unknown can be scary, but one thing I’m sure of is that I learn from lupus every day. I’m proud of who I have become because of it.