Only the strong survive.
For many of us, 19 is a pivotal age of our youth. It’s when our focus is on having fun and transitioning to adulthood. But for 26 year old Jessica Taylor, her 19th year marked the beginning of an uphill battle with chronic illnesses. In the summer of 2007 while attending college, Jessica was admitted into the hospital with no clue of the source of her ailment. “I started experiencing severe chest pains one Friday night and was rushed to the ER. They diagnosed me with pleurisy (chest pains) and sent me back home. I had to go back two days later for same thing and same results.” After spending a week in the hospital, doctors finally diagnosed Jessica with Lupus. She was also diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis.
Both Lupus and Rheumatoid Arthritis are autoimmune diseases marked by episodes of intense pain, stiffness, swelling, inflammation and extreme fatigue. The combination took its toll on Jessica, causing her to be in and out of the hospital for 18 consecutive months with severe pain.
The next chapter of Jessica’s life brought on an unpredictable prognosis. During what seemed to have been the most inconvenient time, Jessica discovered that she was pregnant. “What I thought was the worst thing ever at the time turned out to be just the right thing.” Surprisingly, she made a miraculous turn-around during her pregnancy with now her 4-year-old daughter, Jayda. “I had a wonderful pregnancy and was taken off all of my medications. I didn’t have a flare up until 3 years later. GOD is SO GOOD!”
Jessica credits her daughter Jayda as being her motivation to overcome the obstacles of simultaneously battling two chronic illnesses. “I look at my daughter as being my main motivation because she believes in me no matter what, and I would hate to let her down. So I put on my Pandora gospel station, cry, and move on.” Despite her condition and physical limitations, she still manages to volunteer at her daughter’s school and participate in school PTA meetings.
When she’s not physically able, her family steps in and takes great care of both her and Jayda. “I have a wonderful support system. My parents and siblings help me out a lot with my daughter. When I can’t, they can and will. They know when I need to rest so they take over and help out with her. I thank GOD for that because without family support I don’t know where I’d be in life right now.”
Life is not a sad story for Jessica Taylor. During periods of remission, Jessica has fun doing what she loves: dancing, attending sporting events and occasional shopping sprees with family and friends are a must. She also participated in the Lupus Awareness Walk in April to help raise awareness about the potentially debilitating disease.
Jessica is indeed a survivor. She has touched many through her undying faith in God, her dedication to being a good parent, and her determination to beat the odds. Though she is no stranger to pain and hospital admission, she continuously encourages herself with her personal mantra, “It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.” “Why complain, because that’s not going to solve ANYTHING.”
While many may wish to someday become rich and famous or own an expensive home or vehicle, Jessica’s wish is simple: she wants to complete her education and return to the workforce. “If I could make one wish in life it would be for my parents to see me graduate, my daughter see me graduate, and me live long enough to see her graduate. I am currently on 3 pills a day for my illness and that’s a lot better than 12.”
Inspire someone today by sharing Jessica’s story. Like her, you too can survive your situation and WIN!
“In all these things, we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” (Romans 8:37)
Fallon Brewster is a 27 year-old freelance writer, blogger and speaker from Jackson, MS. She is a 2009 Magna Cum Laude graduate of Jackson State University and a graduate student at Belhaven University. Fallon is a wife and mother with plans to publish her first book this year. Stay connected with her at www.callmemrsb.wordpress.com.
* Photo credit: Life Touch