People and Stories
Lupus affects no two people the same. Get behind the scenes stories of the people who are the heart of this campaign. Get to KNOW lupus so we can end its devastating impact and create a future with NO lupus.
Aiden Gallagher, 22, NY
Aiden was diagnosed with lupus at 11-years-old when she was in 5th grade. In the more than 10 years since she was diagnosed, Aiden has been hospitalized approximately 100 times. Initially her treatments included heavy doses of chemotherapy and other strong medications, including steroids, to suppress her overactive immune system.
Amarissa Mauricio, 14, AZ
When Amarissa was diagnosed with lupus in 2013, she had stage IV lupus nephritis and was quickly put on chemotherapy. In 2013, Amarissa was featured in an ESPN spotlight with Gold Medalist Gabby Douglas.
Andrea Aguilar, 29, CA
Andrea was diagnosed with lupus at 26 after first being referred to a physical therapist. A year later, she suffered from severe kidney disease and was put on chemotherapy for three months causing her to lose all of her hair.
Dimitri Tsimoyianis, 26, NY
Dimitri was diagnosed at 16 after experiencing a high fever and extreme soreness. He ended up in the hospital with kidney failure and spent a few years on chemotherapy, in and out of hospitals.
Donna Galvan, 46, CA
Previously misdiagnosed with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis at age 12, it took another 10 years for Donna to be diagnosed with lupus. Since then, Donna has been on chemotherapy for kidney involvement, developed pulmonary fibrosis and has suffered two strokes. She currently takes 10 different medications.
Jessica Maldanado, 39, NY
Jessica was diagnosed with lupus after seeing three different doctors and experiencing three years of symptoms. She is a mother of two and experienced depression after being diagnosed and realizing her life had changed forever.
Josie Pearce, 17, CA
After seeing nearly 10 different doctors, Josie was finally diagnosed with lupus in October 2013. She was crowned Miss Garden Grove’s Outstanding Teen last summer and chose lupus as her fundraising platform as she moves on to compete in other pageants.
Mahlia Mahdi, 11, GA
At just 7-years-old, Mahlia was diagnosed with lupus in 2010. Her first symptom was a rash on her face that slowly began to spread, and it took six months and more than seven doctor visits before she received an accurate diagnosis.
Mallory Dixon, 28, SC
Mallory was first diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis at 17 and eventually diagnosed with lupus at 23. In 2012, she went to the hospital because she was having trouble breathing and didn’t leave for three months. Over that time she coded and had to be brought back to life, was in a coma, spent time on and off a ventilator and received dialysis and chemotherapy.
Monique Gore-Massy, 35, NY
Monique was diagnosed with lupus in 2008, two months before her wedding. Since then, she has been in and out of the hospital every few months with lupus related health issues.
Rudy Villamar, NY
Rudy’s first symptoms included enlarged lymph nodes on his neck and armpit, initially leading him to believe he had lymphoma. After several doctors and misdiagnoses, Rudy was told he had lupus. Like many people with lupus, Rudy also suffers from Raynaud’s disease, making winters especially difficult for him.
Shea Evans, 23, IL
On a vacation in Mexico as a sophomore in college, Shea became exhausted, her hands were discolored and her skin developed a rash. Soon after, she was diagnosed with lupus. Shea underwent a hip replacement two years ago after complications from her disease.
Wendy Rodgers, 42, CA
After experiencing symptoms such as fatigue and joint pain, Wendy had a temporary episode of paralysis that sent her to the doctor. It took several doctors before she received an accurate diagnosis of lupus. In addition to other severe symptoms, Wendy was on dialysis for almost nine years before receiving a kidney transplant in 2009.