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I Am Surviving Lupus
Personal story by Sylvia A. King

My Challenge

My journey began in 1971, when I was first diagnosed with a severe case of systemic lupus erythematosus, or commonly known as SLE, or lupus. At that time, lupus was not well known and medical information on this mysterious disease was scarce. The information that was available described lupus as a mysterious crippling and fatal disease among black females. My prognosis was poor. My doctors predicted that I would possibly remain totally disabled for the remainder of my life. I was forced to be a participant in a lengthy process consisting of lupus flares, multiple surgeries, weight and hair loss, intense fatigue, and taking high dosages of anti-inflammatory medications that caused bad side effects. At times I stopped working, relationships suffered, and my most personal aspirations for the future seemed out of reach. The diagnosis of lupus sent me spinning onto an emotional rollercoaster ride with my body being at war with itself. Faced with these health challenges, I knew I had to become more knowledgeable of lupus and my medical treatment in order to take control of overcoming the disease, as best I could. I pushed myself to keep alert and active.

Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease in which the body's immune system, instead of serving only its normal protective functions, forms antibodies that attack healthy tissues and organs causing inflammation and multiple complications involving the joints, skin, kidneys, lungs, heart, or brain. The disease affects approximately two million Americans, most of whom are women. Lupus is more common in African Americans, Hispanics and Native Americans. Lupus has no medical cure - its cause is unknown.

How I Got Through It

I was fortunate. Over the years, I have had great partnerships with my physicians and loving, supportive family members and friends. They all believed in me and have given me courage. I got through it one day at a time -- and I still do. My constant need for independence has been my driving force.

The quality of your life with lupus depends on many factors: the severity of your disease; your medical treatment; your attitude toward illness; your knowledge of the disease; your support system; and, how well you care for yourself during periods of remission.

Since being diagnosed with lupus, I have met many women facing similar health issues and struggles. We support one another on many levels. For some twenty years, I have been an active supporter of Lupus Alliance, and currently work closely with other health-related organizations, including the Arthritis Foundation. Additionally, I am in the process of creating a survivors network for lupus patients. This keeps me grounded and moving forward.

Lessons Learned

I have learned that lupus, or any chronic illness, is very difficult to live with and creates much conflict and confusion. Lupus can challenge the will to live and the ability to cope. Lupus is unpredictable with numerous symptoms, emotional problems, and frustrations; but, you can survive. I am proof. I have survived lupus.

Over the years, I have been encouraged by believing that through prayer my faith and desire to live are spiritual forces in fighting lupus. I have learned to make positive lifestyle adjustments that give me an improved sense of well being and purpose. I am happy about my life. I have achieved what I wanted both academically and professionally. Despite my personal battle with lupus, I have put much effort into my education and career. I have completed a B.A. degree in Management & Organizational Development; and, a M.S.A. degree in Human Resources Management.

In 2000, I developed the Southfield Lupus Support Group which serves Southfield, Detroit, Royal Oak, Novi, Farmington Hills and neighboring communities. Its objective is to provide a warm and caring environment where people with lupus can share their experiences and insights into living with a chronic illness. Monthly support meetings are held on the second Saturday at Providence Hospital.

Sylvia A. King

October 13, 2007

Please call Sylvia at 248-559-0503 for more information.

The website for Lupus Alliance is www.milupus.org

Southfield Support Group
Sylvia King (248) 559-0503 or email: sylviaking248@aol.com
Meetings: 2nd Saturday (March-November)
Time: 1:00 PM
Place: Providence Hospital,
Ground Floor- Room C
16001 West Nine Mile Road at Greenfield.
(between Greenfield & Lodge Freeway)

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