Meet Annette Boynes-McCray.
Annette is a lupus advocate and survivor. She was diagnosed with Lupus almost 7 years ago and has fought through body pains, fatigue, hair loss, chemotherapy and more. She’s resilient and brave in sharing her story with us and within her daily life. Below is a little more about Annette and a closer look at her life with Lupus.
I was diagnosed with Lupus in April of 2011. At that time I really didn’t know anything about the disease. When I started looking up what Lupus was I saw that you could die from this illness. I was taken back at first. It took the doctors 5 yrs to diagnose me. My skin was brown and patchy in some places, other areas red and scaly. I went to a dermatologist for skin graphs etc. When my hair started falling out my primary doctor took the initiative to call for additional blood work and saw something was abnormal. My doctor referred me to a rheumatologist and they confirmed it was Lupus.
2012 my symptoms were getting worse. I found myself in and out of the hospital because of chest pains, and severe fatigue. I had to take a 3 month leave from work per doctors orders. In August 2013, early in the morning while getting ready for work, my chest tightened up so bad I started shaking and sweating; I thought I was having a heart attack.
I managed to walk over to my neighbor’s house, shaking, and they got me to the hospital. My blood pressure was so high they assumed I was having a stroke but wouldn’t say. I was admitted for a week and told I suffered from Pericarditis, a sharp stabbing chest pain that affects the sac membrane surrounding the heart.
As you know Lupus attacks the organs and joints. So I had to have Chemo Therapy which meant I had to take another leave of absence from work. My job of 18 yrs let me go. I was devastated. I fell into depression; I really didn’t want to live. I experienced many days of fatigue, achy joints, I was so tired I didn’t even feel like eating.
After 3 months I finally snapped and said to myself I can’t live like this and feel sorry for myself. My kids need me! I started my non-profit Flowers for Lupus as a way of giving back. I reached out to other survivors to figure this out. Started advocating, started working out, and changing my diet. My hair started falling out again so I stopped perming my hair and just went natural.
I had my lupus under control. Later I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia. My joints hurt so bad by touch, migraine headaches were coming more and more frequent. Later diagnosed with Sjogren’s disease. The one thing about Lupus is it is so unpredictable. I think of it as a weed you think you have it under control and poof it comes back again.
I am now fighting Pulmonary Fibrosis which the Lupus is now affecting my lungs. I continue to fight, I continue to live and not let the disease run my life. I am in control. I will not allow the disease take control of me getting up every day and doing something productive. I live, I fight, I survive.