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Bonnie Fossum, Kaptain

Luscious Lupus Warrior

Meet Bonnie. She describes herself as resilient, bold, fun, an optimist, a mom, genuine, and sensitive. 

Bonnie is a newcomer to the lupus community. Registering for The Great (Point)8K, she created a team, “Luscious Lupus Warrior,” a name that “just popped” into her head because that’s how she sees herself: luscious, lively, fun, and energetic. 

Despite having lupus, Bonnie says “I am still that person inside. Now, sometimes she is simply screaming to be let loose, as she is often hidden behind the pain and lethargy of this hateful disease.” Bonnie saw participation in this event as a way to connect with others going through the same battle. She also saw it as a way to simply be part of a bigger team to fight lupus and raise awareness together.

Bonnie has systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) with antiphospholipid syndrome and arthritis. Symptoms -- digestive issues, joint pain, severe complications with both of her pregnancies, unexplained swelling, anxiety, headaches -- started years ago, but neither she nor her doctors ever put all the symptoms together for a definitive diagnosis. Her diagnosis came the day before Christmas last year and she says: 

It’s easy to remember because that Christmas was horrendous. I was put on meds immediately, but had to wait to see the doctor again until after the first of the year. I was in a terrible flare, but didn’t realize what it was; I seriously thought I was dying. I remember falling asleep at my mom’s house, in the middle of the family gathering, and not knowing why. I was sick. I felt depressed. I could barely stay awake and my body felt like it had been hit by a truck … but I was still a mom and had to make Christmas a memorable celebration for my family. But inside, I was confused, scared, and hurting.

One of the biggest ways lupus has affected Bonnie’s life is her need to compromise on day-to-day activities:

I was a doer and a planner. And if I said I would do something, you could count on it. Now, it’s always up-in-the-air if I will be feeling okay to attend a function or even enjoy a simple family day together. Having to say “no” to my kids has been especially difficult.

No, I can’t go out and play football with you today.
No, Mom needs to sleep instead of go shopping.
No, I can’t swim with you because the sun makes me blister and hurt.
No, we can’t go on a vacation because of all the damn medical bills.

Lots of Nos, and I resent that terribly. Though, it makes me appreciate the “yes days” and the good times that much more!

One of Bonnie’s strongest sources of support is her family. Because of this disease, they have had to readjust their roles and learn how to deal with lupus, too. 

That means her husband helps out around the house with tasks like making the kids’ lunches. 

That means her daughter does Bonnie’s hair and makeup on days when her hands and elbows aren’t cooperating and she’s in so much pain she can’t hold a hair dryer. 

That means her son gives her a hug when he knows she’s having a bad day. 

“These things are what I so appreciate!” Bonnie proudly shares.

Beyond her family, close friends, and co-workers, Bonnie also connects with others through Instagram and Facebook. “Just knowing that someone else can relate is a huge comfort,” she said. “They are all virtual strangers, but together we are a large community that can really lift one another up.”

Before signing off, we asked Bonnie what she would say to those thinking about registering for The Great (Point)8K. Her response is sure to motivate:

Imagine waking up one day and realizing your life will never be the same.

Imagine having doctors who don’t understand your symptoms, lab tests, or how all the symptoms relate, which means not getting treatment.

This disease is a puzzle, full of pieces that often don’t always appear to fit together, making patients go years without a proper diagnosis. It’s frustrating. It’s terrifying. So much about this disease is unknown. It affects so many people, and yet, when I was diagnosed and tried to discuss this disease with others, many had never even heard of it! Knowledge is key, but unfortunately, it is not talked about.

I want to encourage people to get the word out – inform yourself and others! Raise money in the names of the wives, sisters, moms, aunts, sons, husbands, friends, and co-workers who are living with lupus. Chances are everyone knows someone who’s been affected by this disease. We need more research so we can start to PREVENT this disease, and if nothing else, slow it down and make life for those living with it tolerable and more enjoyable! We need to KICK SOME LUPUS ASS!

Thank you, Bonnie, for joining us to further the lupus cause! We look forward to seeing you and your team at Central Park in Maple Grove on Saturday, October 14.

Feeling inspired to join us for The Great (Point)8K? Register and create a team today!