StyleStamped: Celebrating over 20 years of Life with Lupus and Kidney Transplant

Scars. Tattoos of life. Scars. Tattoos of life.

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inspiring-quote-scar Today, 14 years ago, I received a living organ from my mother, who donated one of her kidney’s to me via transplantation. It was 1999 and I was in my third year of college at NC State University (I did my first two years at Morgan State University) and was trying to finish up school. I was already on my second break from college due to the Lupus illness and it’s chronic attack on my kidneys and I just wanted to graduate, lol. I was running late for life!

My mother.

My mother.

Today I wanted to take a minute out to post about my celebration of life. I’ve lived with Lupus for 20 years as of this past April, 2013 (the month I was diagnosed in 1993). I have faced a lot of challenges; Lupus had me unable to walk at one time, I’ve had my hair fall out on more than one occasion, I’ve been on chemotherapy and 2 different types of  kidney dialysis (hemo and peritoneal), all at a young age. I feel that I am a testament to Buddha’s quote: “The mind is everything. What you think you become.”  I believe that what you focus on is what you feed, and that is what grows. I never chose to feed the disease or my circumstances; I continued to focus on my friends, family, fun and fashion at all times. Even when I was at the lowest point of my sickness, I made sure I stayed fly and smiled. I didn’t want my life to change due to the rude interruption of an uninvited disease. I certainly wasn’t ready to die, as I had a lot more to do and a lot of places to see and people to meet. So I continued life as normal as possible. Most people never even knew I was sick.

Normal is relative; it's not universal.

Normal is relative; it’s not universal.

High School, after the Lupus diagnosis. "Stay fly, no lie" "Coogi down to the socks!"

High School, after the Lupus diagnosis. “Stay fly, no lie” “Coogi down to the socks!” (Coogie Sweater, Tommy Hilfiger Jeans)

My mother did not allow anyone to call me sick. Therefore, My friends and family did not treat me like I was sick, and it wasn’t really a big topic of conversation. But I had support.  When I had to leave Morgan State so I could get medical attention at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, NC, I transferred schools from Morgan to NC State and I was SAD.  I am a New York native, born and raised. I had never been out of the State for more than 2 weeks at a time for 18 years.  That was my whole point in choosing Morgan; it was only 3 hours away from NY and I could go home on the weekends! My mom made me leave though, the summer after my sophomore year so I could get treatment in North Carolina.  As soon as I got there, I was placed on chemotherapy. I got so sick the first time! But guess what, I got to do a smokey medical treatment of my own, per my mom’s permission (lol) in the backyard and I never got sick again (all hail to medical marijuana, I ain’t mad).  Even still, my kidney function went down to less than 10% after being on chemotherapy for a few months which landed me on dialysis. Dialysis sucks. I wish I could make that pretty but I can’t. But..I made it work. I even found a boo who was on dialysis too and we kicked it for a while.  “Nothing in the whole wide world can stop me!” (2 Chainz / Stop Me Now/ Based on a T.R.U. Story).  He was not really feeling my wild and fun time ways (since we were “sick”), but he eventually caught on! He took me to the beach (in between our dialysis schedules of course,) and we had a ball.  Yup, still rocking a bikini! He wasn’t feeling all that so he stayed in a beater, grey/white/black Harlem’s (aka Uptowns) and shorts.

My boo and I at the time, at VA Beach. Who's sick?? Ain't nobody got time for that!

My boo and I at the time, at VA Beach. Who’s sick?? Ain’t nobody got time for that!

I was in school at NC State, taking 15 credits. That spring, my girls wanted to go to Miami, and I wanted to go! I was doing peritoneal dialysis at the time, which you can do at home on your own, but it involves a LOT of extra medical equipment and boxes and boxes of supplies. So what did they do? They rented an SUV, drove the 9 hours from New York to Raleigh, and then we did another 14 hours to Miami, just so that I could go. The cargo part of the truck was packed to the rim with my boxes of supplies. I did my dialysis 5 times a day, and they would wait for me to finish before hitting the beach or the streets.  I hid my ports and prods with clothes, and no one knew what was going on underneath it all. Well, one time I got caught doing my dialysis in the truck by some guys on the street, but it turned out that they were a bunch of medical students. I was embarrassed at first. Then they started asking me a lot of medical questions, and I became a study topic (It was a black medical student convention going on at the time in Miami, who knew). Needless to say, we had fun! I love, loveeee these girls for life (tears). What you do for others matters. I’m sure they were pretty grossed out at the time about what was going on (Peritoneal dialysis ain’t cute.). But what they did for me on that trip I will never forget. They let me be normal;  my normal. They saw me through the same eyes that I saw myself; (fine, fun, cute, and fly).  There was no questions, concerns, or comments (except from my mother of course, who did not want me to go). They came to get me, my dad hit me off with some ends, and the rest was a wrap.

Denise  and I in Miami, 1998

Denise (right) and I (left) in Miami, 1998

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So what have I accomplished in the past 20 years with all this medical crap? Well, let’s see; I graduated High School in New Rochelle, NY:

Me and my #1 homey, my dad. HS Graduation, NRHS, 1995

Me and my #1 homey, my dad. HS Graduation, NRHS, 1995

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My grandparents came up from NC to my graduation in NY: RD and Martha, RIP

I got a baby sister to go along with my 2 brothers:

Then: 1995

Then: 1995

Morgan State Baby: Little Sister

Morgan State Baby: Little Sister

Me (left) Little sister, lol now (right), 2012

Me (left) Little sister, lol now (right), 2012

I graduated from College:

My mom, youngest brother, and I - NC State University

My mom, youngest brother, and I – NC State University

I had my own baby:

Me, my daughter, and little sister, 2004

Me, my daughter, and little sister, 2004

My daughter and I, 2013

My daughter and I, 2013

I graduated from grad school:

Graduation day from grad school with my boo Kristy, friends for over 20 years

Graduation day from grad school with my boo Kristy, friends for over 20 years

Master's degree in Federal Program Management, accomplished!

Master’s degree in Federal Program Management, accomplished!

I started the love of my life, StyleStamped: IMG_9502

I have fun.

I have fun.

Style Stamped!

Style Stamped!

I still run things; I’m the boss!:

I still run things because I'm the oldest of 4. I might be the smallest, but I'm still the BOSS!!

I still run things because I’m the oldest of 4. I might be the smallest, but I’m still the BOSS!!

I’m a lupus volunteer in the DMV:

My sister and I, Volunteering, 2013

My sister and I, Volunteering, 2013

I met a lady last week who recently received a liver transplant, and she told me that her goal was to at least have her transplant for 14 years. I got a sharp pain in my side when she said that, and I said back to her, “Well I’ve had my transplant for almost 14 years. Me and God have this thing going, where I believe my transplant will last until the day I die, as I’m already at 14 years. I advise you to stretch your goal out a little longer.” She just kinda looked at me, real funny like. But I spoke what I felt. Don’t put a time limit on anything, it’s all in God’s hands. The more you feed what is good, the more you seek God’s plan for your life, the easier things will be. Most of the things we stress about we have no control over anyway, so just put it in His hands. I have no expiration date. I think I’m going to be healthy forever until the end of my time. I’m going to live that way too; Style Stamping the entire way. Who’s down with me? Let’s go! You know I’m ready!!!!

Yana B; 2013

Yana B; 2013

xoxox   Yana B.

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18 Comments

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    Congratulations!!! You are truly a inspiration and blessing to others. You have given me to strength to continue to be positive and live life as if my illness never existed. Through it all I continue to be strong and fabulous too. Thank you for your story. :)

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    Ayana- I have known you since freshman year at Morgan and I’ve kept up with you over the years but I never knew 95% of the story you shared in this piece. That is a testament to your strength because I never heard you complain and I never even sensed anything was wrong. I am so sorry you had to go through all of this but so proud to hear your testimony! You gave me some strength today and I’m sure countless others! God bless you had your endeavors – u already know you’re going to make it because it was written!

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    Such an inspiring story. I have read a lot of stories like this in my life but none quite pulled me in as deep as this on has. Crazy thing is I went to school with her in High School and always that she was so fly and had no idea what she was going through. Much Love to you Ayana!!! Your a true BLESSING!!

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    I wish my daughter could meet you..She is 16 with a kidney disease and always depressed…I want her to read this when she gets home from school…..you are amazing♡♥

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    Wow I have to say that this has been one of the most inspiring thing I have read in a while. I love your Coogie Sweater, Tommy Hilfiger Jeans. Go girl! I love the part that your friends and family did not treat you like you was sick, and it wasn’t really a big topic of conversation. But you had support. Dialysis sucks. I know, for years my grandmother dealt with that and like you said it ain’t pretty so I admire you completely for your courage and facing your illness head on.

    You and your boo at VA Beach how freakin adorable and like you said “Who’s sick?” Ain’t nobody got time for that! :) That was priceless! All I have to say is keep putting your stamp (Style Stamp) on everything you touch and your going to be OK! Thanks again for sharing

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    I love your story! Very uplifting for anyone who is dealing with any disease. I have lupus nephritis and had to do 1year and 6 months of chemo. Didn’t like the after affects but it brought me through. I’m still on meds for lupus nephritis and have been in remission for 5 years! Praise the Lord!!! You are a Phenomenal Woman! God Bless you! Keep doing you boo!

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    I am in tears…I don’t know how I found your page but my mom’s kidneys are failing and she is on dialysis. Shes doing well..we have our ups and downs but overall it’s looking pretty good. My mom was just like you in her early twenties and on dialysis..was told she couldn’t have kids as her body couldn’t handle it or support a pregnancy, well here I am 32 years old with a daughter as well. My moms kidney disease manifested itself again in her late fifties along with diabetes. This gave me hope and inspired me to stay in good faith. Thank you for sharing. I hope you read this :-) I would love to be able to email you

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      Hi love!! I’m so glad you found my page! You can most certainly email me any time – StyleStamped@gmail.com. I’d love to hear more about your story and offer any support that I can. I’m glad this post gave you the inspiration to stay in good faith, that’s the most important thing!

What do you think!! Put your stamp on it!