Sudden diagnosis changes Hernandez’s lifestyle as teenager


Submitted photo of Hernandez from her quinceanera.

Submitted photo of Hernandez from her quinceanera.
Submitted photo of Hernandez from her quinceanera.

Exhaustion and depression consume her. Her cheeks, rosy from her rash, are hot to the touch. Each step feels like’s walking on nails. Even breathing seems to take too much energy. Junior Stephanie Hernandez desperately wants an escape, but there is none because she has lupus.

Lupus causes Hernandez’s immune system to be hyperactive and attack healthy tissues, affecting her joints, skin, blood cells, heart and lungs. She was diagnosed with the disease this summer.

“I didn’t know what lupus was before my diagnosis,” Hernandez said. “I was really scared. I thought I was going to die.”

Hernandez planned to spend her summer playing softball or at the pool, but that was no longer possible. Her life immediately began to change.

“I can’t stay outside as long, and I have to wear sunscreen all the time,” Hernandez said. “I had to change my diet so that I only eat red meat once a week and don’t eat too much salt.”

Hernandez said her personal life has suffered as well. She misses school because of appointments and overwhelming pain.

“I have to limit my activities because I get exhausted easily,” Hernandez said. “Some of my “friends” have stopped talking to me because they think they will “get it”.”

However, Hernandez said she has a good support system she can rely on when her disease overwhelms her.

“Most of my friends have been really understanding,” Hernandez said. “And my mom is amazing; I love her. I can tell her anything.”

Hernandez said that her relationship with her mother has strengthened since they discovered her health problem.

“She worries about me a lot more,” Hernandez said.

Hernandez’ diagnosis was devastating news to her mother Blanca Hernandez. She hates to see her daughter in so much pain.

“As a mother, I only want the best for my kids,” Mrs. Hernandez said. “It’s heartbreaking because there’s not much we can do to help her. I can only stay strong for her.”

The Hernandez family is not giving up, though. “Team Stephanie” is participating in a walk to end Lupus on April 5 at Lone Star Park.

“This is very important because we can help raise money while increasing awareness and rallying public support for those who suffer from the disease,” Ms. Hernandez said.

Stephanie is currently in the health science program on campus. She has hopes of one day becoming a doctor, so she can find a cure for her mysterious disease.

“I don’t want any other girl to have the same thing I have, to deal with the pain I have,” Stephanie said.

Stephanie has an optimistic mind frame about her life and disease.

“I just tell myself I’ll get better later on,” Stephanie said. “I’m positive I’ll make it.”