Samantha C. - Diagnosed at age 17
My entire childhood I was always nonstop, playing sports. However, as I entered my senior year of high school, I started to have pain throughout my body. Playing soccer grew more and more difficult. My athletic trainer eventually advised me to visit a doctor because having both hips and knees hurting was more serious than just soccer preseason kicking my butt.
A few months later I was diagnosed with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Losing weight, energy and hope, I just barely made it through high school graduation day before ending up in the hospital too many times to count. Watching my friends go off to freshman year of college, I didn't think I'd ever be able to have that college experience I always dreamed. At 80 pounds and unable to even walk to the kitchen without pain, leaving home was the last thing I could imagine. One of my first hospital visits, I remember a doctor telling me I was never going to play soccer again. My mom kicked him out of the room and told the hospital we wanted a new doctor. What type of heartless person would tell a scared 17-year-old that she can't ever play her favorite sport again. From that moment on I was determined to get better, and back to the soccer field. After a year of helplessness, I found a doctor who believed in me and told me that lupus should not stop me from a life. We found the correct medications after trial and error and she helped me slowly gain hope again that college was in my future.
The following year I attended Saint Joseph's University, and even lived in the dorms! After four years of studying, I graduated with a B.S. in Sports Marketing. It was not an easy ride. I still ended up in the hospital throughout college because I would push myself to finish out a semester when I knew my body was screaming REST! However, it taught me to really learn my body's signs. I was determined to make it in the real world and put my Sports Marketing degree to use. After numerous internships, I worked my way across the country from Philadelphia to Los Angeles, and I’m now achieving my dream working (and winning championships) with a top sports organization, the Los Angeles Lakers. More importantly, seven years later I found myself back on the soccer field!