When Aiden, now 19, was first diagnosed, she was quickly treated with heavy doses of chemotherapy and other strong medications such as steroids to suppress her overactive immune system. The steroids caused her weight to balloon from 82 to more than 150 pounds over one summer. The treatments eventually began to affect her brain, nervous system, kidneys, and bones, to name just a few.
“Lupus just took over my life. I could no longer do the things I loved to do,” she says.
Once an avid softball player, she was forced to give that up as the disease progressed. Aiden suffers from central nervous system involvement, and when her school could not accommodate her special needs, the family decided to homeschool her.
Since her diagnosis, she has been hospitalized more than 100 times. More recently, she experienced serious seizures while away at college and was alone for more than 24 hours before someone found her and brought her to the hospital.
Despite the difficulties, Aiden, now a freshman at Dutchess Community College in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., remains a fighter.
Because her chemotherapy treatments made her feel cold, she launched a project, Blankets for Chemo, to deliver blankets to children in local hospitals who are undergoing chemotherapy for diseases including lupus.
While undergoing chemotherapy herself, Aiden became friends with another young girl with lupus, Una-Marie. Together, they vowed to do whatever they could to educate the public about lupus. They contacted the Lupus Foundation of America and helped launch the first official lupus awareness bracelet with the inscription "Someone You Know Has Lupus.” The girls were named honorary ambassadors for the Foundation and the bracelets became a worldwide symbol for lupus. When Aiden turned 16, she decided to host a sweet 16 party and raise money for the Foundation and Hospital for Special Surgery in New York. The event raised more than $16,000 for lupus research, education, and awareness efforts.
Last month, Aiden participated in a panel at a Lupus Foundation of America event in Washington, D.C., along with three-time Olympic gold-medalist Shannon Boxx and Dr. Susan Manzi, to speak about the cruel and devastating impact of lupus.
|Aiden (center) with Shannon Boxx (L) and Dr. Susan Manzi in front of the Help Us Solve the Cruel Mystery™ tour bus.|
“For me, life with lupus means never knowing what each day will bring,” she said. "My future has always been the most important to me and my biggest fear is that lupus will stop my dreams."
Join Aiden and Help Us Solve the Cruel Mystery™. Find out how you can get involved at www.cruelmystery.org.