According to Lupus.org, ” Lupus is a chronic, autoimmune disease that can damage any part of the body (skin, joints, and/or organs inside the body). Chronic means that the signs and symptoms tend to last longer than six weeks and often for many years”.
I had the opportunity to interview a brave and genuine young lady who found out last year that she had been diagnosed with Lupus. She was able to tell me how she made light to an unfortunate circumstance. Check out the Interview Below!
1.What is your name and where were you born & raised?
My name is Ijeoma Orji and I was born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia. I am 26 years old, and I am currently a Sports Medicine major at Kennesaw State University.
2. When & How did you know you had Lupus? What was your initial reaction when you found out?
I always noticed symptoms here and there growing up, but I never paid attention to them. It wasn’t until one day in March 2014 at church, my sister who is a nurse noticed my hands turning white. As I tried to cover them up, she instantly knew something was wrong and told me to make an appointment with the doctor soon. I went to the doctor and found out I had Raynaud’s disease which causes some areas of the body such as toes and fingers to feel numb and cold in response to cold temperature or stress. In April 2014 I went to a Rheumatologist and had blood work done.
After three long weeks of waiting on May 1st, the doctor called and said that the results were in. Not thinking of much, I went to the appointment alone–bad decision. My doctor told me that I had Lupus. My world instantly stopped. I felt like I just got hit by a train. I instantly remembered my friend who went through Chemo for her Lupus and remembered all the pain she went through. I went to my car and cried for the longest time. Why Me? What did I do to deserve this I thought? I was depressed for a good three months. I did not go to work or school.
3. Does anyone is your family have Lupus?
No one in my family has Lupus, so it was surprising to see it come out of nowhere. But if I see friends or family that have similar symptoms, I try to advise them to get checked. I know it is a scary feeling, but it is better to know sooner than later.
5. Did you have to make any drastic changes now that you are on medication? ( exercise, healthy diet,etc)
Yes Definitely! I had to incorporate working out at least 30 minutes a day. I had to switch up my eating habits. All I drink now is water and tea. I used to smoke and drink and now I don’t do either. I just have to be careful when working out outside, because the sun is my worst enemy.
6. As the days go by, is it easier to deal with your situation or cope with, or is it day by day case?
It is a mental thing. I deal with each day as it comes. I had to remind myself what makes me happy and to stay doing that, so that I wouldn’t fall back into a depressed state of mind.
7. I am aware that you are trying to start a Lupus Foundation. Can you tell me more about that?
Yes it is called, ” The Source that Gives, LLC. ” This Foundation is for me to bring awareness to Lupus, and how to not let it control your life, but you control it. I have free boot camp called ” Sweat with Me” twice a month to help people trying to lose weight. When I was diagnosed I weighed 230 lbs. Now I weight 188. Living a healthier lifestyle is very important to me now, and I want to help others who need that extra push. I also have Motivational Mondays, and looking to start a clothing line to spread awareness. I have also participated in the Lupus walk, so I would love to have a bigger team for next year. I had almost 60 people walk for me, which was awesome!
8. I read that Lupus affects 9 times more women than men, & more woman of color than white woman. Are you surprised at that statistic?
No I am not surprised at all. We just have to make sure people are aware of the symptoms so that they can get checked early. There are a lot of different celebrities such as Michael Jackson, Toni Braxton, SEAL, Nick Cannon, and more have Lupus. You really never know who has it.
9. What encouraging words of advice would you give someone who has discovered that they have lupus?
I learned that you have to build your mind to be spiritually strong. January 2015 I came out to all my friends, family, and Facebook that I was diagnosed with Lupus. Instead of hiding behind it, I wanted to spread awareness and raise money towards the cure. I received numerous of messages from people who were amazed that I had the courage to tell everyone, because they had battling with the same disease themselves behind closed doors. I just tell everyone that you just have to make the best of each day. Be happy and cut out all distractions and stress. Once I found out I was diagnosed, I wanted to make sure I was in good graces with everyone around me. God forbid I die any time soon, but when it is my time I want to make sure people are left with a loving memory.
10. How can people contact you via social media?
FaceBook: Ijeoma Orji
Website: Will be up in January
Thank you for taking the time to read this interview. Check Out Common Lupus Symptoms & Quick Facts Below! If you see any reoccurring symptoms make sure you go and get checked early.
- Lupus is not contagious, not even through sexual contact. You cannot “catch” lupus from someone or “give” lupus to someone.
- Lupus is not like or related to cancer. Cancer is a condition of malignant, abnormal tissues that grow rapidly and spread into surrounding tissues. Lupus is an autoimmune disease, as described above.
- Lupus is not like or related to HIV (Human Immune Deficiency Virus) or AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome). In HIV or AIDS the immune system is underactive; in lupus, the immune system is overactive.
- Lupus can range from mild to life-threatening and should always be treated by a doctor. With good medical care, most people with lupus can lead a full life.
- Our research estimates that at least 1.5 million Americans have lupus. The actual number may be higher; however, there have been no large-scale studies to show the actual number of people in the U.S. living with lupus.
- More than 16,000 new cases of lupus are reported annually across the country.
- It is believed that 5 million people throughout the world have a form of lupus.
- Lupus strikes mostly women of childbearing age (15-44). However, men, children, and teenagers develop lupus, too. Most people will develop lupus between the ages of 15-44.