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    When I’m done

    By Karin Gelschus

    Karin Gelschus was diagnosed with lupus at 23. She currently works as an interactive marketing specialist at CaringBridge, a nonprofit providing personal websites that connect people experiencing a health challenge to their family and friends.

    I was reading through the CaringBridge site of a friend who was fighting kidney cancer. After a few years of countless treatments and doctor’s appointments, he was done. He had beaten cancer. His years of hardship were summed up in a few simple, but powerful sentences. He was walking away from cancer…for good.

    While I in no way shape or form was comparing my condition to what he went through, I couldn’t help but feel jealous that he was done. No symptoms. No swallowing dozens of pills. No planning around how good or bad he may feel. He was done. He walked away.

    Can I walk away? Not yet, most likely not ever as there is no cure for Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) or many other autoimmune diseases.

    It was never a death sentence, but at 23 years old, it was hard to come to terms with my lupus diagnoses.

    In a 90-degree waiting room filled with people with an average age of 70, my dad said, “We’ll get through it.” Tears had already surfaced. “Karin, you’re a fighter. We can take this on.”

    That day my dad’s comforting words held me together, and his confidence stayed with me through years of ups and downs.

    Encouragement and support are the strongest pills anyone with a chronic illness can take.  CaringBridge offers that medicine every single day through its sites. I’m able to visit my site any time and read all the encouragement and support my family and friends have left me through guestbook messages.

    There are times when I can’t help but wonder if there will ever be a day in my life when I get to say, “I’m done.”  Will I ever get the chance to walk away? Who knows, but in the meantime, those messages give me strength to power through the daily frustrations of my lupus journey.

    What helps you or your loved one get through the everyday challenges of a chronic illness? Share your thoughts in the comments below or in our Chronic Conditions community.


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