Have you ever felt as though you had undergone and withstood all the grief and tribulations a particular obstacle has to offer, just so that you could help someone else overcome it?
Well that is the story being told in Newport News, VA. The story of Chastity Corbett, her battle with Lupus, and her drive to empower others, like 12 year old Kahlani, to fight this aggressive condition.
JULY 05| 2005
It’s eerie how people dealing with conditions or illnesses never forget diagnosis day. For Chastity that fact holds true, as she shares how one trip to her dermatologist the day after Independence Day in 2005 changed her life forever.Chastity was into playing sports like basketball and baseball with her three boys, and simply enjoying a relaxing day at the beach. She even mentioned plans of attending law school, but when she was given her diagnosis she says,
“most of the activities that I enjoy came to a screeching halt!”
And at that moment, if I closed my eyes, I would have heard tires squealing and smelled the burning rubber as most of what she’d learned to love had come to such a harsh and sudden stop. Now playing sports with her sons and beach outings would fall victim to the negative reaction Lupus has to long periods of time in the sunlight. She would also begin to struggle with persistent and overwhelming fatigue from day to day. Not to mention the mental strain of considering what long term damages Lupus was having on her body as it is essentially at war with itself.
Nonetheless, she has made it her business to not let Lupus break her or anyone she could encourage with her journey. In and around the Hampton Roads area, she is affectionately known as “The Lupus Conqueror” because of how outspoken she has been about her battle with Lupus and how transparent she is with certain treatments she undergone, such as Cytoxan Chemotherapy. Her efforts planted the seed for a community of Lupus survivors and supporters in the Hampton Roads area that has blossomed into in a movement that’s connect thousands of people and families. One such family is the Kirton family….
JUNE 14| 2017
After 5 days in the hospital full of testing, evaluations, and uncertainty, the Kirton family received news that their 11 year old princess, Kahlani, was diagnosed with Lupus. Prior to that day, were months of lethargy, muscle pains, inexplicable rashes, and a fever that refused to break, lasting from April to June. This was earth shaking for the young 6th grader, who’s only worry might have been what to watch, write, or draw next had it not been for all that Lupus left her to deal with. Kahlani received treatment from specialists at the Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughter’s in Norfolk, and thankful has adjusted to her new life and says,
“It makes me want to experience more things and go more places. I want to do things I have never done before!”
Now, days a way from the one year anniversary of her diagnosis, Kahlani and her family of supporters, are being honored by, none other than the “The Lupus Conqueror” and her team during the 2018 installment of the Hampton Roads, Walk To End Lupus.
It’s crazy how thing work out sometimes. Chastity’s didn’t know Kahlani or many of those within her network of supporters and survivors when she began her advocacy work. But had she given up, as she could have many times, Kahlani and many others, would be hard-pressed for the resources and support available to them now. Her courage and selflessness remind me of a poem I’ve read several times before called The Bridge Builder by Will Allen Dromgoole. It tells a story of a man who had made it his mission to help others overcome what he had to endured by building a bridge for them. Chastity is that bridge builder and the community she has created is that bridge.
“There follows after me today
Youth whose feet must pass this way.
This chasm that has been naught to me
To that fair-haired youth may a pitfall be;
They too, must cross in the twilight dim;
Good friend, I am building this bridge for them!…”
“May is Lupus Awareness Month, but we do not live with Lupus for just one month!!”
To support Chastity, Kahlani, and the Hampton Roads Lupus Community you can join them JUNE 9th or just CLICK HERE!