Lupus can manifest at any age. For Belle, her symptoms came out when she was 21 years old.
Meet Belle Geronimo, the girl from the province who has the desire and determination to live.
Belle is from a simple family in Nueva Ecija, she is the youngest of 7 children. Growing up, Belle saw how her parents struggled to make ends meet. Her ultimate dream was to be able to provide for her parents who have worked so hard all their lives.
In 2016, she left the province and moved to the city to work as a night shift factory worker, and that is where it started. She noticed bruises on her arms and legs, but didn’t think much of it.
After a few months, Belle’s symptoms got worse. She experienced joint pain, rashes, edema on the legs, and fever every afternoon. She saw a doctor and who thought nothing of it. She decided to go back home where her family can take care of her as she got weaker and weaker.
She saw more doctors in the province, hoping to get answers, but no one knew what was wrong with her. She even went to see an “albularyo” (herb doctor) and she was told that someone had cursed her out of jealousy. Until finally, she met a nephrologist who diagnosed her with systemic lupus erythemathosus.
The nephrologist referred her to a rheumatologist, a lupus doctor. Her doctor explained to her that there are lupus flare ups and remission stages. That living with lupus would not always be hard, that she just needs to take care of herself.
“I fight for my family and for the people that love me.
Because of my lupus, we experienced selling our rice (bigas)
instead of my family eating it, just so we could buy my medicine.
I would cry myself to myself. I was the one who was supposed
to help my parents, I was the one who was supposed to give
my family a better life.”
Belle searched for ways on how to go into remission. She took a loan from the Social Security System and started a small business at home. She was determined to get better and to continue helping her family.
Belle put up a Facebook group called “Lupus Support Group – Philippines” to connect lupus patients and provide support. She was once scared, worried and depressed. She felt helpless and alone when she started her lupus journey, and she thinks that no one should ever be alone.
She started her Facebook group just this year, and she now has 296 members. Belle has passion, and she has the desire to live. For her, age does not matter, where you are from does not matter. She is a young girl from the province, she is determined to get better, she is determined to live a better life, and she is determined to help others.
Belle Geronimo, Lupus Warrior.