Looking at 17-year-old Rebekah Green
in her Clayton Valley (CV) High-School cheerleading uniform, you might think she was the picture of good health and did not have a care in the world. Those assumptions would be wrong.
Rebekah first became ill when she was twelve years old. She became very nauseated at school and subsequent blood work was abnormal. Within a week she was diagnosed with lupus. This was the beginning of a journey that would change her life forever.
She was immediately put on 50 mg. of steroids daily. Her doctor performed a kidney biopsy and her test results were rated as "4" on a scale of 1-5 (a 5 indicating the most severe damage). Immunosuppressive drugs were added to her drug regimen. She was told she may require a kidney transplant in the future. She suffered severe weight gain due to taking large dosages of prednisone and becoming much less physically active.
She felt left out because she couldn’t do everything her friends were doing. She started swimming because she knew this type of exercise would be beneficial. Later in the school year, she noticed her right hip caused her a lot of pain after playing basketball. Tests revealed the upper hip joint was still functional but she was told she should eventually have a femoral ball replacement. When asked how she remembers her recent school years she stated, "I have learned not to be negative but to always look at the positive."
At age fifteen, she had a femoral ball replacement. Her parents, Kathy and Stephen, and her (now) 21-year-old sister, Meaghan, were right there beside her in the hospital. She commented, "My family has always been there for me. When I have had a rough day they would always understand. Their understanding is the greatest support they can give." Now that she had a new hip joint, she was eager to become more physically active and do more of what her friends could do.
Rebekah admits that getting back into cheerleading was difficult but as she discovered how her new hip joint worked, she learned how to adapt. Her doctor told her he would have much preferred she play chess or something more passive, so she joined the drama club and has performed in musicals and plays. She recently had a leading role in Winter One-Act Plays. She was selected to join CV’s premiere singing group, Women’s Ensemble, and she was also invited to join Senior Women: a service society on campus that selects a handful of senior women each year. She will be an officer for this group.
In addition, she has also managed to participate fully on her cheerleading squad for the past two years. This spring the CV High School Cheerleading Squad competed with 13 other teams nationally and took first place. This was truly an amazing accomplishment for a teenager who has grown up with lupus and who has had a recent hip joint replacement.
Rebekah’s future plans include possibly attending Hawaii Pacific College and studying archeology or museum studies. She remarked, "I have tried not to let lupus get in my way and to live life to the fullest. However I know my limitations and try to work around them."
Her parents, Kathy and Stephen, are both current Lupus Foundation of Northern California’s (LFNC’s) board members. Rebekah said "I read the Foundation’s newsletters and find them very interesting. I enjoy reading how lupus affects others and about preventative measures you can take."
For the past two years Rebekah has formed a team named Boos Loop Crew for the LFNC’s annual 5K Run and Walk. This current year, 14 of her friends and family joined her team and she raised $4,355 in sponsorships.
Rebekah is a shining example of how a child can grow up with lupus and still manage to accomplish many of her goals and desires. Her courage and determination have sustained her and her positive attitude has inspired all who have known her.