Photo: Jokiva Bellard by Claire Bangser/Barcroft Images. Source: Metro.
Model Jokiva Bellard will not let lupus define her as she shares several pictures of herself with her blisters to give others battling this chronic illness enough confidence to love themselves for who they are.
Setting the example for others
Jokiva Bellard saw a big change in her life once scars and blisters started to show on her beautiful skin. Now, she is covered by lesions that almost look like burns all over her body, particularly on her hands, face and other visible areas. After being misdiagnosed, Jokiva Bellard learned that she actually had lupus.
However, when it comes to her disease, Jokiva developed an admirable and pretty inspiring attitude when learning to overcome her burn-like lesions and other symptoms. As a 23-year-old woman, Jokiva remains positive about her body, conveying a message for others, whether they have lupus or not, to follow their dreams despite their circumstances.
She does this by posting and sharing photos of herself along with messages that can motivate others to love themselves, rather than punish themselves for something they cannot control. Jokiva also highlights how important healthcare is to manage both symptoms and emotions.
Jokiva Bellard's story
When Jokiva was 18 years old she started noticing blisters forming on her cheeks and neck. At first, professionals believed she was struggling with eczema, however, the condition worsened over time. While she experienced a rash and some joint pain in the beginning, later on, her skin began to peel off and bigger blisters would not even allow her to open her eyes.
After this, she decided it was time to visit other physicians, especially when it began to prevent her from seeing and breathing properly. It wasn't until she went to the hospital where she was finally diagnosed with lupus, a disease that her mother also suffers from.
With these blisters, a family history, and also her sensitivity to light, physicians were able to correctly diagnose her. In her own words, Jokiva has mentioned that the flare-ups became pretty regular and her skin would also be incredibly red. At that time, when she didn’t know anything about the condition, it was a very difficult for her to be confident with herself, constantly feeling bad when she would have to go outside.
Facing reality with lupus
It was very hard for Jokiva when her symptoms hardened, as later on, she had to go to the hospital due to kidney failure, and afterward, things started to go downhill. By that time, she started to struggle with activities like eating, drinking and even sleeping.
In order to help her immune system, Jokiva received chemotherapy, and now that the process has ended, she takes up to 21 pills daily in order to prevent an outbreak. Most of the time she spends her days feeling tired and in a lot of pain, but she is not giving up on her condition.
Regarding her thoughts, she considers her lupus diagnosis as a chance to appreciate life more and pay less attention to the negative stuff people have to say about her appearance. As a model, she is going to keep sharing her experiences through social media in order to raise awareness of lupus and inspire everyone to love themselves as the way they are.
She thinks that she is in the right place to be a positive influence, and we couldn't agree more. By sharing these photos, it'll help others to love themselves and their "battle scars", while also spreading awareness of what this disease truly is for those who do not know it.
Jokiva also states that online bullying does exist, and it can be very difficult to deal with. She has had to deal with her own negative comments that have tried to put her down, one comment even asked her to kill herself. She said, “Being strong enough to stand these kinds of comments will make you feel like someone stronger.” Jokiva is happily married to her husband Howard Rivers and they live in Louisiana. She plans to keep spreading self-love among a generation that does not have an appreciation for themselves and is always looking to fix who they are in a society full of prejudices.
To follow and learn more about her inspiring journey, follow her on Instagram.
Findings on lupus symptoms, treatments and severity
Lupus is not a very common disease, nevertheless, it is a real problem that exists, affecting Afro-American women mostly. The condition that still remains a mystery for the kind of reasons that hide behind its appearance is the subject of many studies and investigations going on around the world. Among the most common symptoms, general discomfort, fatigue, and joint pain can develop. In lupus, the immune system attacks its own cells and tissues, thereby affecting the joints, skin, kidneys, lungs, heart, nervous system and other organs of the body.
According to many studies, at least 90 percent of patients with lupus are women. Lupus can affect people of all ages and both sexes, but it affects about women are 10 times more likely to have it than men. People with problems like as scaly eruptions on their face, neck, ears, and chest, sensitivity to light, joint pain and a malfunctioning immune system, should visit a rheumatologist immediately in order to consult their condition.
A lupus diagnosis can be quite difficult since it is considered an unpredictable disease, and it is said that there are not two cases that are exactly the same. The unique pattern of symptoms associated with the disease has led some to compare it to a snowflake. Among the wide range of lupus symptoms people display, there are some that mimic other rheumatic diseases, which makes the diagnosis process difficult.
Conservative treatment with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and hydroxychloroquine may be appropriate for patients with lupus who do not have any life-threatening symptoms, such as joint pain, muscle pain, fatigue and skin rashes. When there are serious complications in the organs, a more aggressive treatment is needed, said treatment may include high doses of corticosteroids or immunosuppressive drugs. The benefits and risks of treatment must be weighed against each patient and their doctor.
Health organizations say that around the world there have been numerous cases of people suffering from lupus. It is said that the majority of these cases correspond to systemic lupus erythematosus and that at least one important organ is affected.
Nevertheless, one of the most bothersome symptoms for people with lupus seems to be the appearance of lupus rashes since they affect personal image directly.
Being ashamed of oneself can have an important impact on self-esteem, and this is a very difficult situation to overcome knowing that lupus can trigger depression quite easily.