By the time I was 18 years old my mother gave birth to my half sister, but the joy of her birth was soon overcast by my mother’s severe postpartum depression, which led to years of fighting mental illness. By 19 years old I was married. We had a beautiful son that suddenly became ill and was diagnosed with neuroblastoma on his third birthday. After a brutal protocol of chemotherapy then full body radiation for an autologous bone marrow transplant, we had less than a year of remission before he died at 4 years old. My marriage failed for obvious reasons. After my son’s death I received a B.S. in Biology with the intention of pursuing medical school. Exhausted and burnt out I decide to take off a year. During this time I become pregnant with my current son. I was so happy to have a child to fulfill the void left from motherhood. I make a decision to to put off medical school until he is walking and talking.
By the time I was ready to go back to school my general health began to deteriorate. I suffered two years with a variety of symptoms beginning with fatigue and frequent "colds" to the point of absolute exhaustion and disabling arthritis. I couldn’t even maintain a job. Eventually I had to also give up the clients for my home business. During the course of one week I ended up in the ER 3 times for high fever and pain. Next, one night I experienced a severe neurological event similar to a seizure, but I thought I had a stroke. The EMT asked me as they carried me out, "Do you have Lupus? " After countless visits to doctors and emergency rooms the previous two years not one had mentioned this mysterious disease to me. Without explaining the rest of my ordeals, I soon found he was right. In minutes he diagnosed what doctors had called "anxiety", ‘stress", and "arthritis".
There are so many lessons I have learned through these hurdles that I feel compelled to share. I do not want my life to go unnoticed. I believe my story can give inspiration to faith, love and perseverance as well as raise awareness to some underrepresented issues such as postpartum mental illness, the horror of childhood cancer, and the mysterious incurable disease of systemic lupus erythematosis.