The Story

To my friends,

I have a couple of awesome roommates who brainstormed the idea of going on a biking adventure in effort to raise awareness about Lupus. So, that is exactly what we are doing. On May 18th, we will bike roughly 100 miles from the Sparty Statue at MSU to the Michigan Lupus Foundation in St. Clair Shores.  Any money we raise will be donated to the Michigan Lupus Foundation.

Lupus is an autoimmune disease in which the body essentially attacks itself. Although it is influenced by both genetic and environmental factors, the cause is not known. It encompasses a broad spectrum of symptoms, affecting a number of different organs. Many symptoms mimic a variety of infectious diseases and cancers which make it difficult to diagnose. Everyone’s experience with Lupus is different. It really is a “custom made” disease because each person has different symptoms and responds differently to medications.

After spending 2 years in and out of hospitals, I was diagnosed with Lupus in 2010.  I had fevers of 100 to 105 degrees every day for a year and a half. I developed a rash that blistered and scarred all over my body, lost 20 pounds, lost all of my hair, and had crippling joint pain. I did not recognize the person looking back at me in the mirror, because the disease had morphed every inch of my outward appearance. It was unreal to think that my body was trying to completely destroy itself. Reflecting back over the last 3 years, I have come a long way and every single day I am thankful for how awesome life is.

I like the word awesome.  It is a word I purposely overuse, as it rightly describes how I feel about so many things. That’s my reality and that’s the truth of it.  This ride will be a significant symbol of a remission, a fantastic reality check, and a small expression of gratitude for the support I’ve gotten from my family and friends. They were my backbone and the solidarity of their support was a kind of unconditional love I had never known.  It is what kept me afloat, generating energy within me to keep on keepin’ on.

So, I will be biking on this adventure because I can. Because 3 years ago this month I remember looking at the reflection of a head shaven, frail young woman on her knees at the end of the hallway not being able to physically walk to the end of the stairs. Because the disease completely broke down my body but it never broke down a small spark inside of me. And most of all because the disease will never define who I am.

This bike ride is dedicated to those with Lupus, and to their families and friends who support them. It is for my roommate’s mother, Maggie Ondrus, who passed away from the disease in 2001. It is also for anyone who thinks that they can’t do something they’ve always wanted to do. Your attitude towards any situation determines the outcome; ultimately the only person holding you back, is you. It’s not always easy, but there isn’t much in life that is.  There’s a unique beauty that lies within overcoming difficulties. This beauty is impressive and inspires great admiration. It is meaningful, it is excellent and it is the definition of awesome.

It is our hope to raise money until May 18th, to help increase Lupus awareness and to support those going through their own battles.  If you are able to donate towards this cause, I would sincerely appreciate it!  If you can’t, thank you for taking the time to read this and please consider passing word along to anyone who might be interested.

Much love,

Jackie

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