Maya J. - Diagnosed Age 15
I remember getting to the last day of my freshman year of high school and sitting down to take my math final when I looked blankly at the page and wrote down random numbers. My brain would not function no matter how hard I tried. I couldn't do the basic math problems and I knew something was really wrong. My mom took me to the pediatrician who then noticed a starting formation of the malar rash on my face and immediately ordered blood work. Everything was negative which was good, except I went the next year with test after test being run with no outcome. My kidney started to bleed and I was in tremendous pain. I was told by a rheumatologist that it was all in my head and stress caused my symptoms.
Luckily for me, my parents were my biggest support and kept pushing. I woke up one day with a rash covering my cheeks and pain so bad I could barely walk. My mom took me in and they did another set of labs and sure enough my antinuclear antibodies (ANA) were positive. A year and half after my symptoms started I was diagnosed with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). I have been fortunate enough to only be on four medications at the moment with the "big guns" being hydroxychloroquine (plaquenil). Even on medication, I have bad days and flares where I can barely walk, I'm exhausted and can barely function. Sometimes no one notices when I feel bad because I "look fine" which can be so disheartening.
Even through all of the pain and bad days and lows on the roller coaster that is SLE I have found a way with amazing support from friends and family to persevere. I have not let lupus define me or my story. I still have chased and achieved all of my goals in life at this point in time. I have gotten lupus under control and haven't had a flare in months. I even achieved the dream of playing D1 college athletics as a University of Pittsburgh softball commit. I sometimes fall down because of lupus, but I won't let my invisible illness define me and I will continue to thrive and support my fellow warriors. One day we will find a cure!