The Founder of The Purple Promise

KAREN JENKINS

My name is Karen Jenkins and I have been battling with Lupus disease for 18 years now. When I was initially diagnosed in 1997, I really didn't understand what was happening to me. All I knew is that I was normal and then one day I woke up and felt like someone or something had invaded my body. After a series of test were ran by my physician I was then referred to see many specialist to pin point exactly what was going on. A few months has passed and I was told that I had what they called borderline lupus. I was prescribed some steroids and given weekly injections and several different pills to take and I was told that I needed to get lab work every 2-3 months.

 

Well I did the regiment for a while until I felt better. I had a few of what I like to call episodes here and there, so I just did as I was told and took the meds, kept up with the injections and labs and thought I had the so called Lupus thing beat. Well WRONG! I remember when I was young I had all sorts of heath issues such as trouble walking, always retained fluid along with swelling and pain in my joints, thyroid problems and my weight would flucuate often. My mother would take me to the doctor and they would just tell her that I was flat footed and that is what was causing my joint pain.

 

After giving birth to my children my body really went through some tramatic stages. In 1996 I had a headache that just would not go away and it hung around for about 5 months. So I went to the doctor and got a MRI and was given some news no one is prepared to hear....Mrs Jenkins you have a small tumor on your brain. I was in utter shock and given two options to resolve the brain issue. I could get my head shaved and be rushed into surgery or I could take some medication to possible shrink the tumor and get monthly MRI'S. Let's just say I chose option B.  When I was given the diagnosis in 1997 about the Lupus, I didn't think it caused what happened in 1996 on my brain so I didn't mention it. I thought they were isolated situations. Over the next 9 years I just took the steriods as needed and went on my merry way.

 

In 2006 I suffered a massive stroke on the left side of my brain, and since then it feels like I've been in a 9 year flare up. From October 2007 until July 2015, I've had over 20 medical procedures under anesthesia, body parts removed, a gastric pacemaker installed to help regulate my stomach in order to digest meals properly and a great deal of other health trials. The doctors all attribute these problems to SLE Lupus. The past 18 years has not been easy and I can honestly say that without the Lord, supportive family, friends and great  team of physicians.....I don't know how I would have made it through some of the most tulmultuous times in my life. There are so many people that I have had the pleasure to meet with Lupus disease that aren't as fortunate as I am with a strong support system.

 

I have spoken to some of their relatives or close friends and found that they are not educated at all about the effects that this illness has on their loved one. So one day in 2013 while I was actually visiting my Rheumatologist office for a check-up, it dawned on me that I was turning 40 that year and wanted to make a difference in the lives of others that suffered with Lupus. I knew the perfect candidate too. It was a beautiful woman of GOD names Hannah Petteway that the Lord placed in my life right before my diagnosis. She was very instrumental in me being able to accept what was happening to me because I watched her go through her journey with Lupus right before me. She had such an awesome support system within her church members,  family and friends.

 

Even though she was going through her own trials she always had time to spead love, cheer and support her fellow sufferers. As a matter of fact, she was the first person that I called when I received my diagnosis. So I wanted to honor her as my first recipient. Normally every year I would give away gifts all month long for my birthday which is in December, but this year as I was receiving all of the invitations from my former classmates about their party plans, I was excited for them, but when I thought about my own 40th birthday, I wasn't as excited. I knew that whatever I did it had to make a great impact on others and that I wanted to do something that would change lives and inspire people. So the Lord dropped in my spirit THE PURPLE PROMISE. On December 28th, 2013 we had our first Butterfly Awards Banquet and I made up in my mind that for the rest of my life, all of my birthdays would be spent encouraging others lupus sufferers to STAY IN THE FIGHT!