My name is Melissa Mackey and I was diagnosed with lupus 22 years ago at the age of 13. I was originally diagnosed with mixed connective tissue disease, which is a combination of lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and scleroderma; however, as I grew older and entered into my 20’s the lupus became quite more prevalent and I was diagnosed with lupus nephritis. As one can imagine, being a young adult with lupus is difficult. In the course of my life I have seen a multitude of specialists due to the fact that lupus affects so many organs. I have been on a daily regimen of medicine since I was 13, and at times I was taking 5 different types of drugs. I have also had my fair share of lupus flares. In a few of those cases, they were severe enough to land me in the hospital. That is the thing about lupus - it can be so unpredictable, and you have to continuously be on guard. However, with all the ups and downs that this disease can bring, I have learned that I am stronger than I ever could have imagined and I do not and will not let it hold me back. I have a great family that has supported me from the moment I was diagnosed and they have been with me every step of the way, in good times and bad. I married a wonderful man two years ago, and we intend to start a family of our own soon. I walk for lupus because I’m a fighter and I won’t let this disease get the best of me or anyone else who suffers from it.