Sweet Sixteen. One of our rites of passage growing up. For boys, it felt like you had become a man. And for girls it was as if you had graduated onto the next level of womanhood. Well imagine that exactly one month after your sweet sixteen you received news that would change your life forever…

Meet Cianna Durr. On February 25th, 2017, exactly one month after celebrating her 16th birthday, she was diagnosed with Systematic Lupus Erythematosus, commonly referred to as Lupus. As she wrote, “Lupus is an autoimmune disease. [It] attacks the healthy cells in your body.” And her particular version of this cruel illness is called Lupus Nephritis,”Which means the lupus is attacking my kidneys and affects [their] function,” she writes. As if that’s not enough, the proverbially “icing on the cake” is that she also fights Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis (JRA). Lupus and JRA share the inconvenience of joint pain, swelling, and stiffness; symptoms that, along with loss of appetite and longer than average periods of sickness, drew the initial red flags for the Durr family. Now, Lupus has also caused Cianna to limit her exposure to sunlight, increased her fatigue, and made it hard for her to rest some nights. In short, lupus has become a rugged, uphill battle for her, but her spirit seems unphased by her faceless opposition.

“Stay strong and don’t let Lupus fight you. YOU fight Lupus!”

This is what she has to say to those who’ve recently been given the same news that she was given just over a year ago. And, although she didn’t say it, nor can I say I saw this in her eyes (as I never actually met this superwoman), but I’d imagine that “Stay strong… YOU fight Lupus” is something she says to herself as a subtle reminder to keep going and that she’s winning!

All May is Lupus Awareness Month and you can expect to see tons of survivors and supporters rocking their purple attire for the cause! In Tampa, they are gearing up for this year’s awareness walk and so are Cianna and her team! “I walk to show myself and others that are fighting this cruel disease that we are not alone.” In the message she sent she names her mother, father, and extended family as her biggest supporters making sure she finishes mentioning, “.. and last but not least my wonderful doctors who are keeping me here today.”

Cianna has been with DTLR going on six months now, and I hope that in that time, we’ve made it clear that she can add us to her growing list of supporters. A team of supporters that will all be suiting up for team “Lupe, Durr it is!” this month during Tampa’s Walk to End Lupus.

Maybe you’d like to support Cianna or someone else fighting Lupus? If so, just CLICK HERE and you can make a contribution! And remember to rock your purple this month. It’s the color of royalty, so let’s let our kings and queens fighting Lupus know that we stand with them.