Be Good to Yourself
S.L.E. Lupus Foundation Board member Michele Gadsden-Williams Shared Her Story at Brooklyn Support Group
S.L.E. Lupus Foundation Board member Michelle Gadsden-Williams shared her experience as a woman of color living with lupus at last night’s support group in Brooklyn. She advises others with lupus to be your own advocate, to be good to yourself, to get involved, to advocate for funding for lupus research, to tell as many people about lupus as you can so people understand the disease.
Sometimes things happen to us on purpose for a purpose. As Dr. Maya Angelou would say, "We are all here to teach". The lesson that I've learned about living with a chronic illness is that I need not be timid about promoting awareness and education about this disease. I could be saving a life. Michelle is turning that lesson into action, promoting the lupus cause as a member of the S.L.E. Lupus Foundation Board and in her personal life, at work and in her community.
Michelle’s lupus journey began when she was about to depart for Switzerland to dive into her dream job as a high-level executive for the pharmaceutical company Novartis. “I suffered in silence for two years, hiding my illness from my parents, my co-workers, my friends, even my twin sister. I was cruel to myself, pushing myself to the absolute limit despite feeling very sick. Here I was working in healthcare for a company that makes one of the most common medications for lupus, and I wasn’t taking care of myself. When I finally saw a doctor, he told me that if I didn’t stop, I literally wouldn’t live to see my 50th birthday.”
“I have shed many tears about losing my wellness and try hard every day to live a normal lifestyle. But I am done mourning what was. I know that I am really not like everyone else. And I have accepted my new normal. Now I am kinder and gentler to myself. “
Michelle continues her successful and high-pressure career in her current role as Managing Director and Global Head of Diversity & Inclusion and New Markets Segment Leader at Credit Suisse. But she approaches life with a much greater sense of self-awareness and self-care.
“My boss, my peers, my team all know about my lupus so if I ever need help, they won’t have to guess what to do. I exercise every day so my joints don’t get stiff. When I travel, I take an aspirin and wear compression stockings on my arms and legs to make sure I don’t get a blood clot from sitting too long. And I’ll take a stop-over flight if I travel a long distance. I also eat very well, particularly limiting red meat, carbohydrates, salt and sugar.”
“Get involved with the S.L.E. Lupus Foundation,” Michelle suggests. “They are the kindest people and are there to help.”