For Erica DeMeerleer, Valentine's Day 2002 was anything but romantic. In fact, the events of that week nearly broke her heart.
DeMeerleer, an account executive for Comcast, was 25 and involved in a two-year relationship at the time. She had moved from her hometown of Bellingham, WA, to Seattle for her work, but was trying to maintain the relationship long-distance.
"It was a period of high stress for me," DeMeerleer recalls. "I was adjusting to the new home, struggling with high rent payments, and trying to keep my relationship going." She was also coping with incredible pain, which she thought was a symptom of the rheumatoid arthritis she had been diagnosed with six years earlier.
Then came the week that shook DeMeerleer's world. "Three days before Valentine's Day, my boyfriend broke up with me. Then a few days afterward, my doctors told me I had lupus," she says.
Learning that you have lupus is always hard, but when you're single, you face an additional set of fears. You may struggle with when and how to discuss lupus with a potential partner -- and worry about how they'll react once you do. You may even wonder if you could keep up a healthy romance at all, especially when you’re feeling fatigued or self-conscious. Is it possible to look for love -- and actually find it -- while dealing with all this?