I have played soccer since I was a young girl. I love competing. I love the feeling of having a team to support you. I love having something to do each week that gives me a workout while making me happy. You would think with all this playing I would be good, but I’m still just average. I love it, but I’m average.
My first clue something was wrong was in February of 2011 when I had to walk off the field from exhaustion. Not being out of shape…exhausted. (Maybe in a way soccer saved me since it was a red flag very early on.) Many months later I began the process of getting diagnosed with Lupus. By December, I was diagnosed with Lupus and packed away my outdoor cleats for good. Lupus is triggered by the sun and I could not take my chances in this hot, Texas heat. I have faithfully stuck with indoor and even play harder now knowing I almost thought I could never play again.
After my diagnosis, my doctor looked at me like I was crazy for continuing to play. He was right. I took the season off. I was anemic and it was a bad idea, but after being medicated for a few months the anemia has lifted and I am back on two teams! While making this transition, I googled athletes with Lupus to find some motivation of a public figure that continues to compete despite this illness. I found a golfer and a baseball player, but no one else. Maybe the athletes have not shared their diagnosis, maybe they don’t know…even scarier, maybe all athletes that have it aren’t athletes anymore.
Today, my parents gave me this article.
Finally, an athlete with Lupus and a soccer player at that. In fact, even a midfielder which is my position and the one that runs the most. Hallelujah! A motivation to never give up on the things you love and to fight this disease until we find a cure. I know the severity of this disease is different for each person and just because she can do it doesn’t mean I can or should, but it is hope. Hope that with increased awareness a cure will be found. Hope that if you are able, you can still be active and do the sports you love. If nothing else, it is knowledge of a disease that is widely unknown besides being a punchline on a popular television show. Today, the article inspired me and reminded me Lupus has taken away a lot, but not everything.
The good news is: Thank you, Shannon, for going public with your diagnosis. I understand why you haven’t said anything for so long; you don’t want it to be an excuse or for others to treat you differently. But, because you did, athletes like me have some motivation to keep pushing ourselves as long as we can, but to also listen to our bodies when we cannot. Today, I continue to be grateful that my symptoms are mild. My heart goes out to those that have it worse, but know we are (I speak for Shannon Boxx in my downtime) running up and down that field for you and for all of us until we find a cure.