At the age of 18, Anna Garcia was diagnosed with sytemic lupus erythematosus, and was told her condition had no cure. 26 years later, Ms Garcia shares how she fought the disease.
“I couldn’t understand why I was having fever, swollen joints and arthritis. I couldn’t walk and had rashes. Later on, my eyes started to bleed. A rare case where lupus cause abnormal blood vessels to form in two retinas and bleed.”
At a young age of 18, Anna Garcia was diagnosed with systemic lupus. She shares that she experienced unusual symptoms that made her very ill.
Lupus is an autoimmune disease where the body's immune system attacks its own tissues and organs.
Anna adds that stress was a major trigger for her lupus to flare up.
“I had to make sure that I don’t get too tired. I made sure I’m not getting stressed. I remember getting tired all the time. Even with medication, so I never pushed myself to work too hard. I was always managing stress so that’s important because the stress will trigger a flare up.”
- Lupus is an autoimmune disease where the body's immune system attacks its own tissues and organs.
- About 9 in 10 women develop lupus between 15 to 45 years old.
- October is Lupus awareness month in Australia.
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Ms Garcia was told by her doctor that there was no cure for her condition and only medication can help control the symptoms.
Determined to fight the disease, she decided to delve further to learn more about her condition.
“I started reading books on epigenetics. How you’re thinking affects genes and cells, and I started to learn more about personal development. I also read a book the law of attraction which is about how your thoughts turn to things.”
While Ms Garcia believes that the medication worked to ease her condition, she felt that there is also healing beyond what medicine can offer.
“I realised if my finger is cut, it starts to heal itself. There’s a certain intelligence there. There’s God, the universe, something intelligent that is working to heal there. So I started to question, is it possible for me to heal my body?”
The power of the mind
In searching for answers, she found someone online whose lupus went into remission because of meditation.
“I decided what if I just sit and [meditate] for 15 minutes a day. I would close my eyes and I would picture an electricity going through my body lighting up all my cells. I would tell myself that my cells love me and always look after me.”
She shares changing her mindset is one of the keys to her healing.
"I started to tell myself that my body is full of vitality even if it wasn’t. I would imagine myself feeling strong. Of course, that didn’t happen straight away. I was still feeling sore. But I thought there’s nothing to lose. It won’t cost me anything to imagine."
After years of medication and a positive mindset, Ms Garcia started to regain her energy.
"As the year progress, I started noticing I wasn’t feeling sick anymore. I started to have energy and started to feel strong. All the things I was imagining were starting to come true. I even trained as a Zumba instructor."
What was even more surprising is that her lupus blood test went down to 0.
"When I came back for my check up, my lupus DNA was at 0 percent. It used to be 1200. I waited another year to see if I could keep it to zero and it was zero again. I was advised by my doctor to stay on medication. He said I should keep taking it even in smaller dose because its gonna come back."
Another year passed, still her results came back negative.
"[My doctor] said I'm healthier than a healthy person. He said to me, clearly mindset is everything. He said it was miraculous. He’s only seen it in 2 per cent of cases."
Lupus survivor turned life coach
Today, Ms Garcia is a life coach, an author and a mother.
She encourages those who are going through health battles to stay hopeful and always keep an open mind.
"The doctors don't have the final say. You have the final say. Don’t close the door to having a well and happy life. I started with something simple, I decided to be well. If it's possible for me, it's possible for you. Do take the advise of your doctor while you're going through it but keep an open mind to what's possible."
Healthy Pinoy is SBS Filipino's weekly segment on health. The content provided is for informational purposes only, and does not intend to substitute professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Contact your GP or doctor for support.