Hey everyone! What a year it’s been, I’ll try to update you all on my journey since the lupus walk. For those who are new I’m Brianna, 21-year-old lupus warrior. I was diagnosed with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus, or SLE, in November 2017. Lupus is a very misunderstood disease that affects every person differently. In my case, my lupus has only affected my blood. I had my first flare up in the form of autoimmune hemolytic anemia in 2017 where my red blood cells were being attacked by my immune system, and it was treated by steroids. Last year you all helped raise $1495 towards lupus research, awareness, & support, and since then the support from everyone has been overwhelming. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting fellow warriors and family members of warriors, who have talked to me about this disease letting me know I'm not alone in this battle. I also went to California for the first time and transferred to the University of North Georgia.
I had my second flare up in December 2018. It was a little different than the first time since I became sick with the flu that triggered another flare up in the form of anemia. I spent 5 days in Emory hospital on a heart monitor surrounded by my mom, boyfriend Jaleel, friends, and family. This time the anemia didn’t respond to steroids, and the root of my anemia has yet to be found. With two units of blood I was released for having a stable red blood cell count and I’m currently being closely monitored to avoid another severe flare up. Despite this setback I am very blessed to have a medical team that communicates with me on my disease, and insurance that makes this more affordable for my family (as this wasn’t always the case). I am also thankful to be back in school this semester, finishing my degree but, at my own pace.
Making others aware of my illness was something I felt compelled to do. There are many other lupus warriors out there. They could be your classmates, colleagues or even your family members. As a lupus warrior I am aware that there may be others who have symptoms but are unaware of their connection to the disease itself. I am still fairly new to the Walk to End Lupus community, but I joined it with the same goal: To find answers. I am walking this year to not only express my gratefulness to be able to walk, but to raise awareness about the drastic effects of lupus, and for all the other lupus warriors needing assistance. The Walk To End Lupus Now Atlanta is led by the Lupus Foundation of America Georgia Chapter, the only statewide valuable resource for the lupus community.
Did you know:
Lupus is a mysterious and misunderstood autoimmune disease. It strikes without warning, affects each person differently, and has no known causes or cure.
Lupus symptoms can be severe and highly unpredictable and can damage any organ or tissue, from the skin or joints to the heart or kidneys.
While lupus can strike anyone at any time, 90% of people living with lupus are women. Women of color are at especially high risk.
Last year’s donations went to many things such as:
Emergency Financial Assistance: The Georgia Chapter distributed funds to help people living with lupus who were in financial crisis. The Chapter paid utility bills, co-payments for doctor visits, rent and much more.
Providing free, valuable educational information, physician referrals, resources, support groups and educational programs reaching patients in 121 of the 159 counties in Georgia.
Some of the goals for the funds raised this year include:
Continuing to expand educational programs and resources to new communities.
Increase awareness, participation and support of our programs in the local doctor’s offices.
Partner with HBCU’s to bring awareness of the signs and symptoms of lupus to those who are most affected by this disease.
Provide caring support to people with lupus, their families and their caregivers, and help guide them through the complexities of living with lupus.
My team’s goal this year is to raise $1,500, please join us in whatever way possible. The walk will be April 27th at the Georgia State Stadium. Whether that be through donating towards progress in our community of warriors, volunteering to assist an upcoming walk in your area, or walking with my group. Even a donation of $25 or $50 makes a huge impact towards our goal.