Neighborhood star Tichena Arnold and her sister Zenay are huge patient advocates in the fight against lupus.
Photo source: Tichina Arnold and her sister, Zenay. Blackdoctor.org
The 16th annual Hollywood Bag Ladies Luncheon was held in LA in November and designer handbags from Prada, Gucci, Chanel, Roberto Cavalli, and Prada were featured at the event to award “Neighborhood” star Tichina Arnold and her sister Zenay with the non-profits' Women of the Year Achievement Award. These two ladies are huge patient advocates, and also are co-founders of the We Win Foundation.
Tichina’s sister, Zenay, suffers from seven autoimmune disorders that ravage her body. Lupus is one of the most prevalent autoimmune diseases, and it is a miracle that Zenay can do all she does. When Zenay was diagnosed she was told she would live her life in a wheelchair; lose her hair from chemotherapy medications and the fatigue linked with lupus would prevent her from working full time. None of these came true, and now Zenay thinks of herself as a miracle.
The Arnold sisters work diligently to give back to others with lupus and other autoimmune illnesses. They want to prove that you can do what you need to do—and do it well—and still have lupus.
It is Tichina’s drive to educate the world about lupus and the We Win Foundation. In her own words, Tichina talks about lupus by letting people know it affects, not only your body, but also your mind, the people around you, and your livelihood. Lupus brings change to every part of your life.
Tichina and Zenay created the We Win Foundation in 2013 to help people with lupus and other autoimmune diseases. Zenay does not want people to go through what she has endured. We Win was developed to give individuals, their families and caregivers support in their times of need as they deal with autoimmune diseases.
The We Win Foundation provides:
- Grants for alternative health treatments such as Stem Cell Therapy and Acupuncture,
- Holistic health, lifestyle programs, nutrition, and cures
- Counseling services
- Financial assistance
- Lupie Yoga program
- “Zs Survival Kit” which is a kit full of “stuff” that helps her “survive” during her lupus flares. In the kit are compression gloves, a squeeze ball, juicing recipes, hand warmers, and recipes for lupus and other autoimmune diseases.
Zenay’s Story: How She Became the Miracle She Is Today
Zenay suffered from a divorce that blindsided her. She believed her marriage was good and had no warning that things in her personal life were about to go south. After her marriage failed, she worked long and hard to keep her head above water and her emotions under control. She could find no answer to the questions of why, and no answers for people who asked her what went wrong. It was an awful time in Zenay’s life, but she turned to God to transition through it.
As she was getting her life back in order, her body started acting weird. Zenay experienced numbness in her hands and feet, achy joints and fatigue. Zenay worked hard and believed maybe she just needed rest. One morning Zenay’s body refused to move, and she was rushed to the hospital.
It didn’t seem real. Her body was frozen, and the pain was unbearable. Doctors kept asking her questions, but she had no answers. After days and weeks of tests, Zenay’s results included five autoimmune diseases that had taken hold. Her symptoms fit lupus combined with rheumatoid arthritis, Sjogren Syndrome, Mixed Connective Tissue, and Raynaud’s.
The doctors told Zenay that no medication would make her feel better and give her back her life. The doctors also said these diseases will cause her death, but they would do what they could to give her a good quality of life.
Zenay fought, and her battle cry was “We Win.” Giving up was no option and faith in God was her salvation.
Her diagnosis was eight years and seven autoimmune diseases ago, and Zenay fights through the bad days with incredible faith. She feels her good days outweigh the bad days and credits God for allowing her to live each day as a miracle. Her doctors are attentive to her care, and they make a remarkable difference in her life.
Zenay says that she still holds a full-time position with a prestigious law firm and also handles her sister Tichina Arnold’s singing career. People still look at Zenay and cannot believe she has seven diseases.
Because Zenay is not in a wheelchair or bald by now, she feels that her life is remarkable and realizes she needs to give back to others with lupus and other autoimmune diseases. Her life is not about her; it is about helping others through their illnesses even if it is only being encouraging or donating her time to a cause. Zenay says, “I will not give up.”
What Is Lupus?
Lupus is a chronic, autoimmune disease that damages parts of your body like your joints, organs and skin. There is no cure for lupus, and it can be mild and inconvenient or life-threatening.
The white blood cells in the immune system try and protect against harmful substances like viruses, toxins, bacteria, and all blood and tissue distributions. When your body’s immune system lights up to fight harmful substances, and it instead mistakenly attacks and destroys your healthy body tissues, you are diagnosed with an autoimmune disease. Basically, with an autoimmune disorder, your immune system does not realize that there is a difference between healthy tissues and antigens. Your immune system sets off a reaction that destroys and attacks itself.
Lupus hits Africans, Asians, and Native Americans statistically harder than Caucasians. Most of those with lupus are women, and often it attacks younger women between the ages of 14 and 45.
Lupus includes symptoms of swelling, pain, fatigue, inflammation, and damage. Joint pain, fever and lupus rash are also signs. Lupus is more than just physical signs, however. Living with lupus can cause extreme reactions in your mental wellbeing. Cognitive dysfunction is a symptom and many people with lupus experience forgetfulness or difficulty thinking. They may feel fuzzy-headed or have lupus fog.
Depression and anxiety occur as a psychological reaction to lupus or side effects of the treatments. Some people with lupus experience unpredictable changes in moods and personality traits. You may feel anger and irritability for no reason.
Look at Zenay’s story and her We Win Foundation for support and help. This foundation is specialized in educating you and helping you learn as much about the disease and treatments as you can. Share the information with those around you so they will understand the disease and how it affects your daily living. Support in your family friends is also essential.
Always practice healthy lifestyle habits. Exercise regularly, eat a healthy, balanced diet and try to get enough rest. Avoid alcoholic beverages to circumvent feeling even more depressed.
Manage stress and learn stress management techniques. Mental health professionals can teach you techniques like progressive muscle relaxation, meditation, and guided imagery. You can use these techniques any time to cope with the stress of lupus. Visit the We Win Foundation and join with Zenay and Tichina to become a part of their advocate organization again lupus. Helped by an awesome organization like We Win and the help of God, you can live a miraculous and fulfilling life.