Stories about: lupus

Charlotte’s story: Overcoming lupus

lupusA few months ago, Bonnie Godas, a Braintree mother of two, called a friend at the Massachusetts Statehouse asking a simple question. That friend phoned a friend at the Massachusetts Department of Transportation.

Several phones calls later, Bonnie heard the news. On May 21, Boston’s iconic Zakim Bridge will be lit purple in recognition of Lupus Awareness Month.

“I’m excited. I’m grateful and thrilled that Charlotte is doing so well,” says Bonnie. “It’s so important for parents to know about lupus because it can mask itself as other conditions like fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis.”

Lupus is an unpredictable and diagnostically challenging automimmune disorder. The immune system mistakenly attacks parts of one’s own body. This can damage organs, especially the kidneys and the blood vessels, if it isn’t diagnosed and treated.

Bonnie is well aware of how difficult it can be to diagnose lupus. Five years ago, her daughter Charlotte, now 19, started experiencing minor aches and pains and stomach issues. Her symptoms worsened, and Bonnie brought her to a local specialist.

Charlotte underwent a series of tests, including a liver biopsy and colonoscopy. “We weren’t getting answers,” recalls Bonnie.

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August highlights: Overcoming diabetes, asthma and more

Catch up on what you may have missed on Thriving last month. Our staff takes a look back at a few of this month’s favorite posts.

How to survive six months in the wilderness with type 1 diabetes

Hiking in Vermont

Rachel Hemond, an 18-year-old who has type 1 diabetes, doesn’t need much direction when it comes to survival. This winter, Rachel completed a 600-mile circumnavigation of Vermont by backcountry ski, white water canoe, rowboat and bicycle—and kept her diabetes under control.

Read more about how Rachel manages her diabetes.

Overcoming IBD obstacles…and traveling the world

Megan was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis on December 23, 2009—her life changed forever. She went from a healthy and active 14-year-old to a teen with some very concerning symptoms. A few years later, a decision to have surgery changed her life and allowed her to travel the globe.

Experience Megan’s journeys.

“When you hit rock bottom…the only way to go is up.”

Justin at his first 5K in 2014 and his second in 2015 after nine months of rehabilitation
Justin at his first 5K in 2014 and his second in 2015 after nine months of rehabilitation

The Franciscan Hospital for Children Heartbreak Hill 5K on June 14, 2014, was a special day for Justin Ith. It was the first time the 16-year-old, who weighed a mere 70 pounds at the time, had been outside for months. As a nurse pushed the wheelchair-bound teen across the finish line, he turned to her and vowed, “Next year, I’m going to finish this race by myself.”

Learn about Justin’s triumph.

Getting in the ring with asthma

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10-year-old Joel was diagnosed with asthma at age 2, which was difficult news for his mother Ellis. At age 6, a severe asthma attack landed Joel at Boston Children’s Hospital Department of Emergency Medicine with the risk of a collapsed lung. After spending two weeks in the hospital, Joel was released home and referred to Boston Children’s Community Asthma Initiative (CAI)—a free program that helps Boston-area families manage their child’s asthma at home.

Find out how Joel and Ellis keep his asthma under control.

5 things to know about teens and depression
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Depression impacts many youth and families across the U.S. Up to 28% of young people experience an episode of major depression by age 19 with an average onset age of 13 years old. However, only 38% of teens experiencing depression receive treatment. Raising awareness is a key step to addressing depression.

Learn how you can help teens with depression.

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“When you hit rock bottom…the only way to go is up.”

The Franciscan Hospital for Children Heartbreak Hill 5K on June 14, 2014, was a special day for Justin Ith. It was the first time the 16-year-old, who weighed a mere 70 pounds at the time, had been outside for months. As a nurse pushed the wheelchair-bound teen across the finish line, he turned to her and vowed, “Next year, I’m going to finish this race by myself.”

Justin at his first 5K in 2014 and his second in 2015 after nine months of rehabilitation
Justin at his first 5K in 2014 and his second in 2015 after nine months of rehabilitation

A few months earlier, Justin had been living the life of the average high school student. Skateboarder. Guitar player. Anime aficionado.

“I thought I was invincible. I thought nothing could ever happen to me.”

Justin’s road to rock bottom started in December 2013. His joints were swollen and sore, and it hurt to move. The activities he loved—skateboarding, playing the guitar—were out of the question.

His pediatrician referred him to Boston Children’s Hospital Rheumatology Program, where Drs. Pui Lee and Robert Fuhlbrigge diagnosed him with reactive arthritis, a condition typically related to infection, and prescribed prednisone to manage his joint pain and control his discomfort.

The medication seemed to help. But on Justin’s 16th birthday—March 7, 2014—everything changed.

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