Sep. 11, 2018

Walking for Herself and for Every Person Fighting

Jackie Brown, second from left, with her daughters.

Jackie Brown knows lupus. She’s been coping with it for the past 27 years. But the diagnosis came as a complete surprise.

“I was in the hospital for two weeks with a bad kidney infection,” she recalls. “The doctor had given me antibiotics and I ended up having an allergic reaction. I was in the middle of my youngest daughter’s second-year birthday party when I got extremely ill.”

After being diagnosed with lupus Jackie remained hospitalized. “I asked my husband to bring me everything written regarding lupus,” she says, “so that I could understand this disease and what symptoms I was going to incur.”

Over the years those symptoms have included impaired vision, migraine headaches, severe inflammation and pain in her arms and legs, kidney issues, skin discoloration, rashes and bruising. Today she’s experiencing side effects from taking a corticosteroid to manage lupus for so long: high blood pressure, fragile skin, insomnia, a decrease in bone density, and cataracts.

Yet all along the journey, Jackie has faced each day with gladness. “Every day is a gift, a blessing from God. I’m extremely grateful!”

Part of that gratitude is paid forward. When she meets someone who’s newly diagnosed, she sends a ‘WE CARE’ package filled with facts regarding lupus, the Lupus Foundation of America website address, and little gifts, like a lupus wristband, pin, or key chain. “I want them to know they are not alone in this fight,” she says.

Five years ago, Jackie’s three daughters signed up the family for the Walk To End Lupus Now® in Los Angeles. That was the start of Team JB’s Sweetpeas. “It was my Mothers’ Day gift from my girls. I was so overcome with emotions that I cried—and then my husband donated the first $100!”

She says that team members use a variety of fundraising strategies, such as hosting Launch Luncheons to get everyone pumped up and ready to fundraise. Last year they created bracelets for sale; they also ask each donor to tell five other people about the Walk and the team’s fundraising page. “Bringing awareness is the key! That is our Team mission and goal with our fundraising.”

As for the day of the Walk— “It’s such an indescribable feeling!” Jackie says. “I walk for those like myself, every single person living with lupus and fighting daily. I walk for those unable to walk themselves. I walk to honor and in the memory of those who lost their fight. Talking to others participating in the Walk, hearing their stories and their journey and how the Foundation has been there for them and their family, is something truly magical, and I look forward to being a part of it each year.”

Be Powerful this Fall and sign up for a Walk to End Lupus Now® event in your area.