Thursday, April 16, 2015

Guest post: Jessica MacLeod, a college student with Behcet's, AS and lupus

Jessica MacLeod is a college student who's not letting Behcet's, ankylosing spondylitis, and lupus define her future. Her blog is called "Incurable and unstoppable: The journey of an anthropology student with chronic, incurable illness" at www.unstoppablestudent.netHere's her post from April 11, 2015 (used with permission):

College students face all sorts of challenges while reaching for their degrees, but mix in incurable diseases and you've got a whole different story. Step into my world of classes, mid-terms, cafeteria food, projects, study sessions, medications, hospitals, doctors, fear, and pain.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Take that autoimmune diseases! AKA: An amazing opportunity!

As you all know I am an Anthropology student. The American Anthropology Association holds a national conference every year. It's something I've only ever dreamt of going to. Thousands of people in my field, in all different fields of anthropology, coming together to share projects and ideas. The people at the very top of my field sitting on panels and giving lectures.

I have been working on a project of my own. It's about cultural signifiers and xenophobia in America. I can't say a whole lot about it beyond that since it is still in the works.

Any way, it was pointed out to me by a professor that my project fits in perfect with this year's theme for the AAA conference. So, she asked me to please submit it in hopes I will get selected to present it at the conference. THE NATIONAL CONFERENCE! Even if I don't get picked, I'm still getting to go!

I'm going to be going to Denver for five days in November meeting people from all over in my field. This could open doors for me that I never even thought about. My diseases aren't going to take this away from me. I don't care how sick I am, I'm going, and I'm going to have one hell of a time!

The only thing is that proposals are due by this Wednesday so I don't have a whole lot of time to prepare. Thankfully, I have a good friend who has just earned a literary Master's degree and she's helping me edit things. I'm SO nervous. This could mean so much for me and my education.

If you had told me even three years ago I would be a straight A student, going to a national conference in my field, and looking at possibly presenting alongside masters students and people with one or more PhD's, I would have thought you crazy.

I have Lupus, Behcet's Disease, and Ankylosing Spondylitis. I take 14 medications every day, most of them more than once. I also take 6 other medications as needed for pain, nausea, and breathing. I have a nebulizer I use most days and I take an injection once a week. I am in constant pain and discomfort. And here I am. Making a name for myself in my chosen field.

NOTHING will ever hold me back. My diseases may get me down but they will never keep me down. No matter how many papers I write from a hospital bed or tests I study for in waiting rooms, no matter how many classroom trash cans I throw up in, no matter how many sleepless nights I go through because of pain, I will persevere. I will win. I will stand tall and proud and say nothing can stop me.

Kick me to the ground and I will stand back up. Just you wait and see, I'm going to be something amazing.

Jessica MacLeod