Sharan S. - Diagnosed at age 14
I remember being in gymnastics practice when I was 14 when I felt my first symptom of lupus. Every single joint in my body felt like it was on fire. I had aches, pains, and I felt extreme fatigue at all times. My fingers lost circulation whenever I touched anything cold and seeing blue and purple fingers left me petrified with no answers.
It took me 6 months to get a diagnosis and my entire world crashed down when I was told I would never have the same life I did before. Lupus has affected my daily life with dealing with symptoms, medication side effects, and severe flare ups. I finished my senior year of high school online due to the severity of my disease and many hospitalizations. I missed out on many major events that a regular teenager and young adult should have experienced - but my reality was different compared to my peers. Lupus had continued to affect my life throughout my teenage years and young adult years from gaining and losing weight, hair loss, pain, having to undergo chemotherapy as treatment and recently a bilateral hip replacement.
I’m 22 years old, a recent college graduate of UC Irvine and an aspiring physician assistant with 2 prosthetic hips. Lupus has taken from me, but also given me a perspective no other individual could compare to. Through the pain, I have been shaped into a warrior, and adversity has become second nature to me. I have taken the pain, the lessons, the mishaps and hurt and spun them into gold and something beautiful and abundant.
Despite my physical battles, I have let go of what could have been my future to embrace what is - the foreseeable future as an empathetic health care provider who will treat patients with the utmost respect and care that one can give. Instead of viewing this illness as me losing everything, it is actually me gaining a different version of everything - a version that will give back and make a difference despite my own battles.