THE 8TH ANNUAL FLIGHT OF THE BUTTERFLIES
Butterflies of Hope Warrior Stories
Flight of the Butterflies, Butterflies of Hope Warrior Stories is a lupus awareness campaign sharing stories of the brave lupus warriors. Many don’t understand lupus until they hear the walk of a warrior. Flight of the Butterflies, Butterflies of Hope Warrior Stories is dedicated to sharing those stories in May for lupus awareness month.
Flight of the Butterfly Alyshia Merchant
Alyshia Merchant fell suddenly ill in the summer of 2012, at the age of 23. She began having extreme fatigue, body aches, joint pain, and excruciating headaches all in a matter of days. Shortly after, she began having more visible complications, such as rashes on her face, hair loss, and swollen puffy eyes. Constant visits to the ER over the course of three months revealed no clue as to what was going on with her body. It was only when she began having serious life threatening symptoms such as high fevers, vomiting, swelling in her feet and legs, and blackouts, that she was finally hospitalized. After several long days of testing, and a kidney biopsy, in October of 2012, she tested positive for SLE Lupus Nephritis. From that day on, Alyshia’s life was never the same.
The first thing that Alyshia tried to do, was find support in her community. She felt that if she could just talk to someone who had been through what she was going through, that it would encourage her, and help her get through. However, she found absolutely nothing. Despite the treatment plan that Alyshia was placed on, Lupus remained fully active, and wrecked havoc on her life for a year and a half. Lupus had caused her to lose most of her hair, she carried around 40 lbs of painful edema, or fluid, in her feet and legs, skin rashes, and a swollen round face from the high dosages of steroids prescribed to suppress her immune system. For the first time in Alyshia’s life, she was insecure, and she was alone.
In January of 2014, lupus caused her to go into acute kidney failure. After six long months of chemotherapy, she finally began walking on her path to recovery. She then decided that she never wanted anyone in her community, or in the world, to go through what she went through alone. In 2015, she created the organization, Making Lupus Look Good.
MLLG is dedicated to empowering women that are suffering silently with the many insecurities that the lupus battle may bring. The MLLG mission is to restore the confidence in these women that lupus has stolen from them, by providing them with a full glam experience including makeovers, wigs for hair loss, skin care, etc, and full photoshoots at no cost to the patient whatsoever. The purpose of the makeovers is to remind these women of the beauty that God has given them, despite the many insecurities that lupus may throw their way. In July of 2015, MLLG partnered with The Lupus Foundation Of America, and created the first ever Lupus Awareness Event in Roanoke, Virginia. In March of 2016, Alyshia received the UBU Honors “Event Of The Year Award.” In February of 2017, Alyshia received the C.C Williams Community Service Award from the Urban Professional League, along with the “You Are A Star In The Star City” award by Mayor Sherman Lee. In October of 2017, Alyshia became certified as a Chronic Disease Self-Management leader through Stanford University. With this, she leads workshops in the community, to help others living with Chronic Illnesses learn to better cope with, and maintain control over their illnesses. In 2019, she created The Survivor’s Circle, the first lupus support group in her community in over a decade. And in 2020, she became one of thirteen people chosen across the country to be a Team Of Advisors Member for PatientsLikeMe, the world’s largest personalized health network.
Since Alyshia’s lupus diagnosis, she has also been diagnosed with Pseudo Tumor Ceribri, a rare neurological condition caused by lupus, that mimics the symptoms of a brain tumor. Although she has learned to better manage her illnesses over the years, she still battles much pain and insecurities every single day. Which is why her God given passion is to bring as much awareness as she can to lupus and invisible illnesses, and to let lupus warriors across the world know that they aren’t alone in this battle, and that she is fighting with them.
Lupus In Color is excited to present Alyshia Merchant’s story to the world. As a Lupus Warrior she is actively promoting lupus awareness and wearing the armor of strength in doing so.
Lupus In Color Salutes you Alyshia Merchant . YOU ARE BRAVE, COURAGEOUS, AMAZING and STRONG TO SHARE YOUR STORY.YOUR BUTTERFLY WINGS ARE FLUTTERING, YOUR CHIN IS UP, YOUR ARMS ARE EXTENDED AND YOUR CHEST IS OUT! FLY ON BUTTERFLY!FLY ON!
PLEASE SHARE Alyshia Merchant’s FLIGHT ON YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA PAGES AND START HER BUTTERFLY JOURNEY SPREADING LUPUS AWARENESS!
#LupusInColor #ButterfliesofHope #FlightoftheButterflies #Brave #Courageous #Strong #SpreadLupusAwareness