In recognition of World Lupus Day 2019, NKRC had a little chat with our club member Francine White. One of our longest serving members who has been with the club for 5 years and is currently living fabulously with Lupus!
- What is the official name of your diagnosis?
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE)
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is an autoimmune disease. In this disease, the immune system of the body mistakenly attacks healthy tissue. It can affect the skin, joints, kidneys, brain, and other organs.
- When were you diagnosed?
Fully diagnosed: 2014
- What were your symptoms that led to your diagnosis?
Over the years before diagnosis, I was always presented with different symptoms for which they (Doctors) couldn’t find a definite cause. Symptoms such as pain all over my body, depression, uncontrollable anxiety, exhaustion, etc.
- How did you feel when you were diagnosed?
I felt a mixture of happiness and sadness. Happy because I wasn’t crazy (I was back and forth to the doctor from I was in high school) and sad because I was actually sick.
- What has been your major challenge?
Asking for help when I need it and having to disappoint people sometimes. It is a very draining condition and it sucks all your energy to function on a day to day basis sometimes. One moment you are ok and the next moment you are genuinely not, so when you make plans you might have to disappoint people at times.
- How do you cope and manage with your diagnosis?
I manage my diagnosis by taking prescribed medications on a day to day basis and I cope by seeing where I want to be and knowing that I am not there yet and also knowing that this is just one aspect of my life and even though sometimes I have to take a step back to regroup, that is what I will do.
- You have been an exemplary Rotaractor and member of NKRC, how did you manage this with your diagnosis?
I don’t know how to explain how. At the time when I started coming to NKRC, I was just dealing with fully learning what it was that has been affecting me for so long and how it will affect me going forward.
I decided not to let it define me and so service is where I put my focus. By doing this I got to see that everyone is dealing with something and we all got to push through. Also, when you dedicate yourself to a cause you realize that for that time you forget your struggles by focusing on other persons and Rotaract gives me that moment all the time.
- What would you like for persons and groups like Rotaract to do more?
Lupus is not one of those “sexy” conditions that is given much attention even in this Rotary/Rotaract circle. There is a foundation here in Jamaica that does a lot of work when it comes to spreading information and fighting for benefits for persons with Lupus. It is a very costly condition. The foundation always needs more help. So support the foundation some more. One good thing of late is that Government of Jamaica (GoJ) has finally added it to the NHF list of conditions so persons will be abler to access medications, but a lot more is still left to get done.
- What’s your message to other persons living with Lupus?
Live your life to the fullest (whatever that means to you) and don’t let Lupus define your life.