Kaylee C. - Diagnosed at age 24
When I began my pharmacy residency training back in 2018, I knew that it was going to be a long and difficult year. What I did not know was that it was going to be life-changing, both professionally, and even more so, personally.
In November 2018, I developed symptoms that I thought were due to a common cold. After an array of additional lab work results came back, my physician informed me of the news: I, an otherwise healthy female in her early 20s with no prior family history of autoimmune disease, was diagnosed with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).
The first thoughts that crossed my mind were: Why? Why did this happen? Why me? I may never know the answers to these questions, but I have come to accept that I probably had this condition since I was young and just never experienced a flare or gotten diagnosed. Then, residency hit. I had no clue how I was supposed to finish what would be the hardest year of my pharmacy career yet, while dealing with a new diagnosis that is associated with flares most commonly triggered by overworking, not enough rest, and stress. Ironically, these words perfectly described residency life.
Here are a few lessons I learned along the way, which may be helpful to others dealing with a new diagnosis during a tough time in life.
1. Be transparent with your manager. After learning of my diagnosis, my residency director did everything possible to make sure I could still complete the program in time. She gave me the encouragement I needed when I thought the only option was to leave the program.
2. Remember that you are never alone. Surrounding yourself with a great support system can help during the toughest of times. The constant support and love that I received from my advisors, co-residents, fiancé, and family were what ultimately helped me get through residency.
3. Never underestimate how beneficial self-care is for both your physical and emotional health. Even just a day of rest during residency allowed me to regain energy, clear my mind, and return fully prepared to tackle the next day.
My residency year was undoubtedly the most challenging year I have had thus far, but life tends to have a funny way of working itself out. So, keep pushing forward. There is, and will always be, a light at the end of the tunnel.