Behind the Glitz and Glamour: A Showgirl's Story
"It is fun. It's like you're on the red carpet," said Lisa Lynn Eveleth.
And she's a champion fitness model.
Lisa said, "For me to get up on stage in a little piece of material didn't seem like anything I would do."
But Lisa is still fighting a battle.
"Sometimes I'm fearful, absolutely. I wouldn't be human if I wasn't," said Lisa.
It began over 20 years ago.
Lisa's Mother, Marcia Lee said, "It was when she was about 16-years-old and all of a sudden her nose started bleeding, and bleeding, and bleeding where it was out of control and we had to take her to the emergency room."
Bleeding internally, her mom said, doctors removed Lisa's spleen. She seemed OK, until years later in college.
"I was chronically fatigued all the time, I mean my mouth was extremely raw, the roof of it, my gums, my lips were getting bloody", said Lisa.
She was teaching fitness classes and working toward her Master's Degree.
Lisa said, "I'd wake up with a swollen lip or I'd wake up with a swollen eye shut. I'd wake up with you know a mound on my elbow."
Clearly, something was wrong. She went to her school health center for help.
Lisa said, "They had diagnosed me with Mono and sent me on my way."
Becoming sicker, and sicker, she was fighting a foe, no one could find, until another trip to the emergency room.
"The ER docs immediately suspected Lupus", she said.
It's a condition with no cure.
Lisa said, "Lupus is an overactive immune system and your body creates antibodies against itself, so almost as if you're allergic to yourself."
A diagnosis that cut like a dagger.
"It's chronic, this is my life, this is my new life, ya know so that was tough, ya know tough for me to accept. "
The medicines they tried didn't work. She was out of school, and in a wheelchair.
"I mean my legs were about this big and mean my muscle mass was gone."
She was also having seizures: in her mid–twenties and fading fast, doctors upped the ante.
"So the chemotherapy was to try to suppress the immune system. blast it to sort of reboot itself, start over, start fresh."
"She went down to 72 pounds. She lost all her hair. She was in bad shape," said her Mom.
"I mean there was definitely times I didn't want to be here anymore. I have to admit, I mean I prayed to die, ya know," said Lisa.
"She was in ICU about 4 weeks and we really thought she was going to die at that time," said Lisa's Mom.
It was the mid 90's, and there was finally a breakthrough: she responded well to the chemo, and slowly regained strength. And while the last few years have been good, the Lupus is not gone.
"I do monthly intravenous treatments to calm the immune system down," said Lisa.
That, combined with other medicines, is working well.
"What I went through, it doesn't define me," said Lisa.
Because over time, Lisa has taken back her life.
Her Mom said, "I'm proud of her...I'm amazed actually."
Now a show girl, in sequins and a feathery headdress.
"I mean you just feel like a celebrity," said Lisa.
And a champion fitness model.
"I never thought I would ever be able to show my muscle mass, let alone get to that point from where I was."
Because where she was, "Never give up," said Lisa.
And where she is are 2 very different places. Lisa spends a lot of her time these days creating awareness about lupus. As one part of that, she's helping put together a 5k Lupus Run for next May. Also, she's been married for 15 years, we've included her husband's thoughts, just click here and here.