Before Shundra could truly share with family and friends the news, she had to educate herself on the disease. Today, she is not ignorant of lupus, as a matter of fact she has become very knowledgeable and she is using that knowledge to enlighten others who are in the dark. She has made so many changes in her life as a way to fight for her life.
A gigantic change for her was giving up alcohol. She is not ashamed to say, she was an individual who enjoyed her regular share of drinks, but now she has been alcohol free for 7 months and counting. She has drastically changed her diet to include more organic fruits and vegetables, and less processed foods. And her exercise regimen? Well, let’s just say you would be tired thinking about all the running and cycling she involves herself in. I guess that’s what you can expect from a former cross-country runner. Above all, Shundra made a decision to surrender her life to Christ, who has been the true source of her strength.
PH: How would you describe Lupus?
Shundra: Lupus is an autoimmune disease. The immune system attacks itself and other major organs causing weakness and pain to joints/muscles. Lupus brings about extreme fatigue where at times you can’t even get out of bed. Your hair falls out. Your skin develops ugly rashes on your face and/or you will have photosensitivity. The prednisone, commonly prescribed by your rheumatologist, causes weight gain, but on the other hand it can be hard to keep food down—causing weight loss. You get tingling and numbness in your hands and/or feet. One of my biggest feats was abdominal pain, diarrhea and constipation. Lupus was attacking my digestive system!
PH: Prior to your official diagnosis, what clued you in that something was wrong?
Shundra: I had my son Chandler on January 11, 2001. About 2-3 weeks prior to returning to work from maternity leave, I began being having excruciating pain in my arms/shoulders. I would wake up in the middle of the night in so much pain that I went to the emergency room a couple of times. I was given morphine to take the pain away. This, of course, was a temporary relief. Prior to returning to work, my primary care physician recommended further testing and prescribed Tylenol 3. I didn’t want to take anything stronger……I had to return to work. I could barely walk when I returned to work. Every movement hurt so bad……at times so bad I just wanted to die.
After several months of testing, a rheumatologist informed me that I had lupus. She said it as if I was supposed to know what it was. Then she went on to tell me the treatments I would need to “live” with the disease, because there was no cure. I sat in her office and cried. My thoughts were, “I’m going to die from this……..who’s going to raise my kids……….” I went through a flurry of emotions over the next few weeks trying to figure out what this lupus thing was and how did I get it!
PH: Why do you think it is important to bring awareness to the disease?
Shundra: Lupus is not commonly known and because it is mostly associated as a “female” disease, not much research has been put towards it. Many people may have heard of it before, but most do not know what it actually is, who can get it, how you get it and what it affects.
PH: What advice would you share with other women who are battling lupus?
Shundra: Heal your belly. As with other diseases, I believe many of our illnesses are a product of the food we put in our bodies! Over the course of this year, 2014, I have been gradually changing my foods to organic, non-gmo and gluten free. I have limited my beef & pork consumption to once a month (still a work in progress) and eat lean meats such as chicken breast, turkey and fish. I consume many green vegetables, fruits, yams and sweet potatoes as well. Genetically modified foods are toxic and cause cancers. These toxic foods are in everything we eat. Know your food products and where they come from. Know the ingredients in foods you prepare and consume and definitely stay out of fast food restaurants!
PH: How has having a positive attitude helped you in your fight?
Shundra: A positive attitude brings positive actions. I live for God’s will to be done! I use the enemy as my footstool. I am still, and I know that He is God and will vindicate me when wrong is done. I encourage others to search for Him with all their heart and give their life to God!
Shundra has been on a mission to raise lupus awareness so others don’t have to walk it out alone. She recently put on her 3rd annual, Tubing for Lupus, where people can donate and have fun at that same time floating down the river in a tube. She also creates and sells lupus paraphernalia to further raise awareness. The money she raises all go to the Lupus Foundation. If you are interested in reaching out to Shundra Henton follow her Facebook page @ the Shundra Henton Lupus Foundation. She post a lot of motivational information as well as some excellent eating ideas.
Interest include: cooking, gardening, staying fit, scrapbooking and making crafts/cards.
I Have What? Lupus?!
Written By Tamara L. Dean
If you know Shundra Henton, then you know her zeal for life! She has a genuine love and kindness toward others. She has no problem opening her home or her kitchen to friends and family. She is known to host great parties with delicious eats! I had her cooking, and all I can say is… those lamb chops was taaaasty.
In 2001 Shundra received some news she thought for sure would end her party days forever. At the helm of giving birth to her son, Chandler; she began experiencing excruciating pain in her arms and shoulders. The pain was so extreme she found herself making midnight visits to the emergency room, hoping to find relief, but the only relief and answer at that time was pain medication. For several months Shundra had to endure the uncertainty of what was happening to her. All she knew at that time was that the pain was so intense; it had a crippling affect. At times, she felt as though she would rather die than to live with the pain.
Months later, after much testing, the doctor announced to Shundra, three words that would send her emotions into a tail spin of confusion and fear. Nonchalantly, the doctor told her, “You have lupus?” With a blank stare Shundra stood trying to comprehend what the doctor was saying. As far as she was concerned the doctor was speaking in a foreign language. All the questions that was formulating in her mind couldn’t find the exit through her lips. Her mind was trying to grab hold of what in the world the doctor was saying. Lupus? What is that? She thought to herself.