University of Dayton senior track and field multi-event athlete Taylor Robertson details her strength in the face of the adversity she faces: Lupus. Photos courtesy of Robertson.
Beginning at four years old, I dedicated my life to athletics. Starting as a young gymnast I spent 25 hours in the gym each week. I learned early on that if you give something everything you got, some things are still out of your control.
At 14 years old, I picked up track and field. I stepped onto the track and fell in love with the sport. I never truly realized how much running meant to me until it was almost stripped away right before my eyes.
At 15 years old, I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease that tore my world apart. It became hard to leave my bed or imagine what my future was going to look like.
I was diagnosed with Lupus, a disease that affects every organ in the body. I went from feeling like I had my future planned out, to not knowing what my body would allow me to do that same day.
I began missing school for twelve hour days spent at my doctor’s office. I began missing practice due to kidney infections and poor mental health. I went from worrying about what I was going to eat for lunch at school to worrying about if my kidneys were going to fail. I was so lost and confused.
I pitied my situation for years. I felt embarrassed to be “the sick girl.” I was misunderstood by family and friends. I had never felt more alone or terrified in my entire life.
Until I was tired of feeling that way. I took my power back and changed my perspective. I began viewing Lupus not as a crutch, but a superpower.
It began to feel as if I was stronger than I had ever been. I began to understand that being diagnosed with this disease was only the start to the rest of my life. Instead of feeling bad for myself, I decided to open my eyes to the lesson this disease was actively teaching me.
I began publicly speaking about my disease on various news outlets. I hosted a track meet fundraising for people who suffer from Lupus as well. I realized that I could become an advocate for people who feel their voice and struggles were not heard.
I began running track for those people who cannot get out of bed. For those people who fear what the rest of their lives will look like. I quickly realized that everyone around me was going through something. It wasn’t just me.
I went from being a selfish teenager to a woman with empathy for everyone. A better understanding as to what it meant to be an ally. This fueled my journalism career. I dreamed of the day I would be able to shed light on people’s lives.
My story with Lupus is long and complicated. I struggle with kidney issues, mental health and Rheumatoid arthritis. I wake up everyday in pain, yet everyday I get out of bed. Everyday I wake up with something to fight for.
Sometimes it is hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel, but that does not mean it is not there.
My advice for people who battle any sort of adversity is to gain strength through the struggle. It is okay to be confused or scared of the future if you actively work towards figuring it out. Battling an adversity is nothing to be embarrassed of, these adversities make you unique. Figure out what fuels you and use that to be your reason to get out of bed.
For more information on Lupus, visit lupus.org.