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Olympic Medalist Opens Up About Lupus Battle

Olympic Medalist Opens Up About Lupus Battle
(Photo Courtesy of Shannon Boxx)

By    |   Wednesday, 03 May 2017 10:42 AM

For Shannon Boxx, three-time Olympic gold medalist and member of the winning Women’s World Cup team of 2015, exhaustion was a normal part of life — training with the U.S. women’s soccer team was challenging and rigorous.

What wasn’t normal was the extreme fatigue she began experiencing in 2002. After many years of struggling with it, Boxx found out the problems she had been facing had a name: Lupus disease.

“I was diagnosed in 2007,” Boxx tells Newsmax Health. “But I had been dealing with fatigue for years. For a long time, normal things, like getting up the stairs, were exhausting.”

Unfortunately, the long lag — six years — between the time Boxx began experiencing symptoms of Lupus and her actual diagnosis isn’t uncommon among lupus patients. According to Dr. Tania Gonzalez-Rivera, a rheumatologist who specializes in Lupus and was an investigator in several Lupus clinical trials, it’s a “very complicated disease.”

“Lupus is an incurable auto-immune disease, with very little specific context,” Gonzales-Rivera explains. “Since the symptoms for it are common to plenty of other diseases, delayed diagnosis of Lupus occurs more often than it should.”

Gonzales-Rivera notes other symptoms for this disease include rashes, joint pain, hair loss, and fatigue, but that “no two patients are alike.”

When Boxx first received her diagnosis, she “was really lonely, and very quiet about it.”

She struggled with extreme fatigue and joint pain on her own for a long time. She finally told her coach in 2008, and in 2015 went public with her diagnosis with Lupus and Sjogren’s syndrome and became an active member of the Lupus Foundation of America.

“I learned how important it is to be open with your doctors,” Boxx says, “and how important it is to be open with yourself; to listen to and work with your body.” Boxx also notes that once she spoke out about her disease, her game got better, because she had more support.

Boxx retired from soccer in 2015, but still lives a very active life.

“As a mother of two kids, I realized how important it is to take care of myself, so that I can take care of them,” she says.

It’s not always been easy though.

“Lupus is one of those diseases where there are good days and bad days,” Boxx tells Newsmax Health, “it could all change tomorrow. Even still, you can still maintain an active lifestyle. Just listen to your body and take it one day at a time.”

If you or a loved one are dealing with Lupus, there are plenty of resources today to help ease that struggle.

For more information visit the “US in Lupus” Website, which provides information on the disease, tools to track it and understand it better, as well as contact information for Lupus support specialists.

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Shannon Boxx, three-time Olympic gold medalist and member of the winning Women’s World Cup team of 2015, is going public with her struggles with Lupus to raise awareness of the sometimes-debilitating disease.
shannon, boxx, lupus
Wednesday, 03 May 2017 10:42 AM
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