Despite the fact that there are nearly 12 years between us, my sister and I are super close.
Like bestbestbest friends.
When she was little, I remember thinking I couldn’t imagine loving anyone as much as I loved her. She’s a pretty great gal.
Growing up, Jenn got sick a lot. Inexplicably, she was susceptible to just about everything. If you had a cold, she was getting it. If you had the flu, she had the flu. And I swear, regardless of whatever other illness she was fighting off, the kid had a sinus infection 99% of the time. We had no idea why she was always sick, but attributed it to stress and her teeny tiny frame, too small to fight anything off. But how awful to be sick all the time and not be able to do anything about it, right?
A few years ago, our doctor finally got wise and decided to run some tests. Shortly thereafter, Jenn was diagnosed with Lupus, an autoimmune disease that causes your immune system to get massively confused and attack your healthy cells right alongside the unhealthy invaders. This is a chronic condition; not only are you more susceptible to illness, but you also have “flares” or periods where lupus symptoms–like swelling, joint pain, fever, chest pain, etc.–get worse. These can be caused by anything from stress to too much time in the sun. Basically, it blows.
There’s no real known cause or sure-fire treatment for lupus which makes it incredibly difficult to manage. So I’m incredibly proud of my little sis who graduated in 4 years and secured herself a full time job post-grad all while juggling countless doctor visits, multiple flares, and the odd hospitalization (meningitis, anyone?). But the thing about lupus is that it’s chronic, and it doesn’t go away.
My sis is a total trooper, though. She never complains. She endures her numerous illnesses, and in fact, she embraces life more than anyone else I know. Jenn is the true definition of a go-getter, pursuing life and making things happen, rather than just hoping for them. She’s kind of an amazing little lady.
And if you are so inclined, feel free to Put on Purple tomorrow to help raise awareness. It’s such a strange disease, one that’s hard to understand–even for me and my sister has it!–because it manifests in so many different ways. But if more people are aware, hopefully there will be more funding for research and treatment, and ultimately, a cure.