My name is Curtisha Anderson. I was diagnosed with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus in 1991 at the age of 14. My initial symptoms were extreme weight gain, fatigue, and high blood pressure. Shortly after diagnosis, I started emergency dialysis because Lupus had affected my kidneys. I had never heard of Lupus and I was so afraid. I questioned whether I could have a normal teenage life. How would I live life with such a cruel disease?
I initially did in center hemodialysis, but found that it limited my ability to attend school. I wanted to take charge of my life, so I began training to do peritoneal dialysis at home. As if dialysis wasn’t enough to deal with, I began to receive Cytoxan infusions, which meant that I spent a lot of time in the hospital. Cytoxan is actually a cancer drug, but in Lupus patients, it’s used to treat lupus nephritis.
After being on dialysis and Cytoxan treatments for three years, I received the awesome news that I had regained enough kidney function to live my life off of dialysis. I was so excited!!! Other than the occasional flares, I managed my Lupus very well. I followed my doctor’s orders and continued to educate myself, so that I could be in optimal health.
I was able to stay off of dialysis for a little over 22 years. In 2015, my nephrologist informed me that Lupus was starting to attack my kidneys again, and that I would probably have to start dialysis again in the future. I wanted to be proactive, so I decided not to wait. I started dialysis for a second time.
On July 15, 2017, I was blessed to receive the ultimate gift; a transplanted kidney. Because of this gift, my life has forever been changed. The transplanted kidney has caused my Lupus to go into remission, and I feel great.
This journey has been long, hard, and rough, but I’m not sure that I would change it. I have had the pleasure of meeting some really great people along the way and I have also learned so much about myself through this entire process. I have become my best advocate and I advocate for others. Life is good!