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Lupus Warrior Spotlight: Rekha

Rekha is a wife, cat mom, avid traveler, and a lupus survivor. She has battled multiple chronic illnesses, including lupus (SLE, discoid, and lupus nephritis), pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH), and thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (TTP) for the last 22 years. She has a graduate degree in public health, allowing her to work full-time as a public health consultant. After being diagnosed in 2001 with lupus (SLE), lupus nephritis several years later, discoid lupus about 15 years after her SLE diagnosis, and two rare diseases as a result of her lupus in the last ten years, she has learned to become adaptable and shift how she views life. After focusing on what was best for her health, she entered remission after 20 years! 

Despite the struggles and uncertainty of living with lupus and other chronic illnesses for the past 22 years, Rekha focused on what she can control. She has a graduate degree, a leadership position in a job she loves, lives a full and exciting life, and has become an advocate for others. She works on Instagram to raise awareness, educate others, and inspire people. 

When were you diagnosed with lupus, and what led to the diagnosis?

I was diagnosed with lupus (SLE) on August 3, 2001, the summer before my sophomore year of college at the age of 19. I developed what looked like a bug bite on my upper lip. I saw my PCP who didn’t feel that it was anything to be concerned about. The “bug bite” got worse so I went back to my PCP who prescribed antibiotics in case there was an infection. Over a few days, the “bug bite”, which doctors later recognized as sores, spread to my upper and lower lips, my mouth, nose, face and scalp along with swelling and purplish spots on my hands and feet. I was admitted to the ER where I was originally diagnosed with herpes simplex which was then ruled out when cultures came back negative. My body went from healthy to very sick literally within a matter of days. It took roughly 10 days, from my first symptom, to obtain an accurate diagnosis. I was also diagnosed with lupus nephritis several years later, discoid lupus approximately 15 years after my SLE diagnosis, and two rare diseases as a result of my lupus within the last 10 years. 

What have been some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced since your diagnosis?

How do you manage your symptoms, and what treatments have you found helpful?

Despite the challenges, what are some accomplishments or positive moments you have experienced in your journey with lupus?

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