For this year’s conference, the Cura Foundation created an international social media campaign, calling individuals and families to share their stories of hope in the face of adversity and illness. We received submissions from around the globe and chose one family to join us here in Rome. The 2018 Stories of Hope contest winner is The Wilkey Family. Who better to share their story than, Liz Wilkey, the mother of the family, who has inspired hundreds with her courage.
When you look at a photo of my family, you would never suspect that strange-sounding autoimmune diseases hover over the four females in the picture. Diseases like Guillain-Barre, Sjögren’s, Lupus, Hashimoto’s, Spondyloarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. My daughter was diagnosed with Lupus when she was just 11, and her diagnosis was followed by the unfolding of other autoimmune conditions in her sisters, as they went through their teens and twenties. When I was first diagnosed with Sjögren’s, I couldn’t
understand why my body was attacking its own cells. But somehow, I landed on a sense of gratitude for all that my body is still doing for me.
No one escapes suffering in this world, we must transform it into something beneficial. Combining traditional western medicine with prayer, medication, gratitude and other eastern modalities has allowed me to become more thankful, compassionate, aware, and alive than I was before I became ill. I wish I could say that someone in my family has experienced a life-changing outcome from an immunotherapy drug. It hasn’t yet happened through Rituxan infusions for me, or Arensia therapy for my middle daughter. My youngest daughter benefitted from IVIG therapy when diagnosed with Guillain-Barre syndrome. As it has for my brother, who suffers from CIDP (Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyneuropathy).
The very thought of using stem cell therapy to reverse autoimmunity is very exciting to me and promising for the future of my daughters. Two of the eastern traditions I have tried, acupuncture and ginseng, have both centered on bringing my body back to its pre–illness state. What do these time–honored traditions understand that we in the West are just on the verge of discovering how to do more effectively? My family’s journey with autoimmunity may not be typical, but yet we know we’re not alone. We have each other, we have hope, and we have promise for the future. Thank you for letting me share my story.
Text taken from Liz Wilkey’s Video Submission.