Feb 08

If Venus Can Do It, So Can I – AutoImmune Disorders

Venus WilliamsI was recently doing some late night research to develop a better understanding of these various autoimmune illnesses that I’m so fortunate to have and to find supportive resources, groups, and organizations. I became increasingly annoyed when I saw that the faces of many of these organizations, particularly the Sjogren’s Syndrome Foundation, look nothing like mine. In some ways, I wasn’t surprised, but I thought, “I know darn well this disease can’t be that rare for Black folks!” Considering it’s me, it probably is, but I continued to search. That’s when I stumbled upon an article about Venus Williams. Venus Williams has Sjogren’s!  Sjogren’s Syndrome is a chronic autoimmune condition characterized by degeneration of the salivary and lachrymal glands, causing dryness of the mouth and eyes.I never knew that and I found out that’s the reason she stopped playing tennis for a while. At that moment, I felt a strange sense of relief, hope, and sisterhood.

Yes, she’s my sister now! I was so happy and excited…not that she has it, but that I found the one public black figure that openly discusses it and that she keeps pushing forward. I’m still inclined to believe that this may be a rare ailment for people of African descent. I’m always looking for a connection – someone, whether I know them or not, who understands.  I have multiple autoimmune ailments and it’s no fun when people really don’t understand what I encounter on a daily basis. They all have to be treated differently and every single day is completely different from the day before. I feel like I’m on a health seesaw – one illness gets better while the other worsens or becomes more prominent. I still grapple with the fact that I will never be 100% well again and I don’t want to admit that my quality of life has changed.  I just refuse to succumb to not enjoying life. I will healthily do what I want to do until my body lets me know otherwise. I won’t always be able to do all things, so I just have to achieve my goals differently.

I truly feel that if Venus can do it, I can do it also, but I’m not fixin’ to do all of that working out and stuff.

I would love to hear from any other women of African descent that have been diagnosed with Sjogren’s or other autoimmune diseases.

Articles on Venus and Sjogen’s:

2011: http://www.everydayhealth.com/autoimmune-disorders/what-venus-williams-sjogrens-syndrome-diagnosis-means-for-her-health.aspx

2015: http://www.biznews.com/health/2015/07/01/venus-williams-back-track-win-titles-beat-sjogrens-syndrome/

1 comment

  1. TotallyRandie

    Before Lupus became the Purple Social Butterfly that it is. I found myself searching books at the library to understand what my mother was going thru on top of her chronic epilepsy amongs other things. I wanted to trade bodies with her. I still do. I can’t personally relate to what you are feeling. But I’m sure I relate to your daughters. It was amazing and is amazing seeing my mother be strong like you and not let her health stop her from living life. We have traveled out of the country together, went on great adventures, stepped outside of our comfort zone and we’re just getting started. Please keep this strong admirable spirit!

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