The Ministry of Lisa Copen

Lisa Copen, Founder of Rest Ministries which serves the chronically ill, shares about mothering, illness, ministry and more.

Mrs. Indiana Has Lupus – Shares Story

Thought some of you may find this article interesting… Nice to know that the media IS interested in people thriving despite living with an illness.

Lisa

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Wabash Valley woman fights off effects of lupus to claim crown

By Laura Followell
The Tribune-Star

FAIRBANKS — While sitting in a hospital bed one night feeling lonely and depressed, she decided she wasn’t going to feel sorry for herself anymore.

Tara Tate has since overcome the mental strife often associated with the chronic, inflammatory disease known as Lupus, from which she suffers.

“It has taken a lot of hard work, but I wouldn’t let it get in my way. I’ve come to this point in my life,” she said.

With a lot of determination, she has been named Mrs. Indiana and is seeking the national crown in the Fifth Annual Mrs. America Queen Pageant from Aug. 1-5 in Daytona Beach, Fla.

“I feel so proud to be able to do this, to be Mrs. Indiana,” she said.

While maintaining a graceful battle with Lupus, Tate also is helping others. She uses Lupus as her platform, but life hasn’t always been glamorous for Tate.

During past Lupus exacerbations, or flare ups, pain was her life, and at one point Lupus had stripped Tate from any self-confidence.

She has to take steroid medication in order to treat the disease.

Medications combined with hospitalization triggered weight gain, some 28 pounds in two weeks, she said.

She gets severely swollen joints and the pain is sometimes so intense it causes her to become nauseous, incapacitating her.

Lupus is a chronic, autoimmune disease that causes inflammation and tissue damage to cells and organs, according to the Lupus Foundation’s Web site, www.lupus.org. It affects the skin, joints, blood, heart, kidneys, lungs and brain.

Tate, who was diagnosed with Lupus in 2000, described it as her body’s defense mechanism turning itself on and attacking tissues, cells and organs.

“It’s different for everybody,” she said.

The disease often exhausts her with “major fatigue.”

Through the torment, Tate, 33, just wants to get back to life as she knows it: life as a mother of three; vibrant wife, for 12 years; spokeswoman and role model.

“It was a gradual thing. It was me deciding I’ve got to figure this thing out. How am I going to live each day of my life? I wanted more out of life than what I was getting at the time,” she said.

Tate of Fairbanks surrounds herself with an uplifting environment and maintains a positive outlook on life.

“… You have to learn to live with it,” she said. “You can’t live the life you used to live.”

While surfing the Internet one day, Tate discovered a pageant Web site that sparked a flame she thought had gone out long ago.

The once Ms. Indiana Teen was back in action and had acquired certification for pageant judging in January.

Tate started calling organizations that needed help with pageant judging, and she has been busy since.

She discovered the Dream Girls USA pageant organization, for which she serves as the Indiana director.

Through Dream Girls, she met the executive director for the national competition who, along with another member, nominated Tate to compete for Mrs. Indiana in the June 10 competition.

“I thought, there’s no way I could walk in high heels,” she said. “I didn’t expect anything. … The only thing that made me nervous was the fact that I had Lupus.”

A flare up can come on at anytime as Tate once awoke to a 103-degree fever, she said.

“That’s a big fear with Lupus, you never know what tomorrow will bring,” Tate said.

After winning Mrs. Indiana contest, she knew what she could do.

“I’m going to be a very good role model for anyone, but particularly for anyone with a chronic illness,” she said. “I’m going to be able to inspire people to do things they might think is not possible.”

Pageants are more than just wearing a crown, Tate said. As a pageant judge, Tate advocates community service, being a role model and good public speaker.

“I tell my girls, ‘you don’t just wear your crown, you work it,’” she said.

Tate’s husband, Chris, has been a positive influence in her life. He has taken care of their kids while she cannot.

During the early stages of her diagnosis, Chris, said life was a nightmare.

“Tara has the illness, but we all carry the burden,” he said.

Chris said he’s inspired by his wife’s perseverance, and he’s ecstatic about her accomplishments.

Mostly, he said, “She is a wonderful person to represent the state of Indiana for Mrs. America. She deserves it as much as anyone else. She’s worked hard to get to this point, and I know she will shine.”

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