Lessons from Lupus: My Story

By Denise Dorfman

I awoke that day to stinging pain in both my hands. I could hardly bend my fingers because they were so swollen; I was in a lot of pain.

A hastily arranged trip to my doctor revealed that my white and red blood cell counts were low, as was my platelet count. She diagnosed my condition as systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), a disease that could be fatal if left untreated.

Almost everyone affected by SLE—an autoimmune condition—suffers swelling and joint pain, particularly of the fingers, hands, wrists, and knees. After my initial tests, my doctor referred me to a rheumatologist, who quickly put me on medicine for the inflammation in my joints. During this period, I had to be hospitalized twice for observation because the lab work looked so abnormal. I even had pericarditis, an inflammation of the lining around the heart. Sometimes it hurt to breathe, a symptom that would keep me away from work for several days at a time.

Eventually a colleague’s suggestion led me to the work of Louise Hay, who explores the metaphysical healing of illness through affirmations in her book, “You Can Heal Your Life.” Her philosophy resonates strongly with me. She believes that the same mind that created the illness can create wellness in the body and suggests that people can be healed through thought alone.

I was particularly interested in her perspective on the probable cause of lupus, which was “A giving up. Better to die than stand up for oneself. Anger and punishment.” I also noted the new thought pattern: “I speak up for myself freely and easily. I claim my power. I love and approve of myself. I am free and safe.”

Every day I repeated this affirmation. I repeated it in front of the mirror, first thing in the morning and before I went to bed at night. My life slowly started to change. I started to speak up and ask for the jobs I wanted at work, and because my co-workers liked me, they gave them to me. I stood up to a colleague who often picked on me, and to my surprise, she backed down immediately! I never knew that standing up for myself was so easy; I had such a hard time in my youth believing that.

The best part of doing these affirmations was that I started to feel better. I loved myself more. I respected myself enough to defend myself and ask for what I wanted. Then I started to exercise because, after all, loving yourself means taking care of yourself. I began to eat better—I even gave up refined sugar for a while. Finally, the rheumatologist confirmed what I already had known for some time: I no longer had an active disease! He told me to just keep doing what I had been doing. He was happy for me and stated that he could not take any credit for it—I had gotten better by myself.

I thank Louise Hay profusely for showing me the way, but I have another person in my life for whom to be grateful. I really believe the way to recover from lupus is to stand up for yourself. You must do the thing you think you cannot do.


Denise Dorfman is a level II Reiki practitioner who holds an MBA from Marymount University. She is the author of Speak Your Truth: How You Can Recover From Lupus. Learn more at deniseadorfman.com.