Lupus Sistas Founder: “I Didn’t Take My Diagnosis Seriously”

When Gabrielle Davis was diagnosed with lupus as a 26-year-old newlywed, she was in a state of denial. Although multiple family members had the chronic autoimmune disease, she was still very uninformed about the lupus, its symptoms and side effects.

After accepting her diagnosis, she sought out support for people going through the same thing she was. After having no luck, she decided to create Lupus Sistas, a network that connects Black women with lupus.

The Lupus Sistas founder recently shared her journey with BlackDoctor.org.

BlackDoctor.org: How did you learn about your lupus diagnosis?

Gabrielle Davis: It was my first Valentine’s Day as a newlywed and I wanted to make it special for my husband, but I began to not feel well. I felt extremely dehydrated and my joints felt like they were on fire. I went to the hospital where they kept me for four days and told me that I was dehydrated and my white blood cells increased but there was nothing they could do to help me at that time. Because symptoms of lupus can stay hidden for years, my diagnosis of systemic lupus was not detected until I went to my primary care doctor who knows how to spot the symptoms. About a year later, I was diagnosed with kidney damage.

BlackDoctor.Org: What were your initial feelings after your diagnosis?

GD: I was in denial at first. Traditionally, I am a “go-getter” and I like to get things done, so lupus was not a part of my plan. I did not take my diagnosis seriously meaning that I did not take my medication when I was supposed to and I did not care about taking care of my body.  Even though my mom carried the gene for lupus and a few of my family members had lupus, I still did not know much about the disease. After I heard the news about my kidney damage I was devastated. About 40-50 percent of people diagnosed with lupus experience organ damage. When your internal organs are attached it’s a whole other ball game so I had to begin to take it seriously.