I was diagnosed with lupus SLE and discoid in 2003, just days before my wedding. I’ve battled lupus for many years and my mission is to bring awareness to this disease. Lupus is an autoimmune inflammatory disease caused when the immune system attacks its own tissue. Lupus can damage any part of the body (skin, joints and/or organs). While traditional treatment can help, this disease cannot be cured. Lupus patients (myself included) are using marijuana as a safe treatment alternative to help with symptoms.
Rolling out had the pleasure of speaking with Jokiva Rivers, a lupus fighter, wife, model, and activist. She sheds light on misconceptions as well as the benefits of using marijuana to treat lupus.
When were you diagnosed with lupus?
I was diagnosed with lupus at the age of 17. They mistook my skin rash for eczema, at first. Then I was sent to a rheumatologist where I was diagnosed with lupus. Later on, I was diagnosed with SLE, lupus nephritis and discoid lupus
What treatments are you currently taking for lupus?
I am currently on 21 medications. Also, I have done chemotherapy, called rutuxin, and cellcept for my kidneys.
What are your thoughts on nontraditional methods to cope with this disease, such as marijuana?
I would rather the cannabis [marijuana] than chemotherapy, any day. Due to me knowing what changes your body goes through doing this chemo, I would choose cannabis. My doctor never told me that it was bad for me. They would rather have cannabis than narcotics such as Percocet, tramadol, oxycodone, and more. With this sickness, I would find myself not being able to eat my food without cannabis and I explained that to my doctor and he accepted it and told me whichever [drug] you feel a better difference in your body, use it. I use cannabis, but I cut off eating a lot of meat. The only things you will catch me mostly eating now are fruits, veggies, and seafood. I am slowly making a change and I’m loving the outcome. Sometimes, I use cannabis at least twice a day. I can sleep pain-free and relax without any complications.
What is the biggest misconception you’ve heard about lupus?
It’s contagious or it’s not that serious. People do not understand that anyone with an autoimmune disease cannot be contagious because it’s immune, which means internal. This messes within the inside of the body, causing damage to the body inside and out. This condition has no barriers when it comes to what it attacks. You are more harmful to a person with lupus than they are to you. This condition is truly serious because it can attack all organs, tissues, and bones. Sometimes it could even attack the brain. More serious note though: my lupus is genetic; my mother also has this condition.
How important is your support system?
My support system means the world to me because without them I would not have the confidence that I have today, especially my husband who has always been there for me and loved me for who I was. He was around when I first had gotten diagnosed. He took care of me when I was down. He loved me when I was sick and looked different. My husband even cried real tears at my hospital bed and that made me know that someone is rooting for me. Someone actually cared. My mother, sisters, brother, dad, aunties, and uncles were all so supportive of me and I thank them so much. I do not know what I would have done without these glorious people in my life.
What’s next for you?
I am currently getting back into school but I am also working on a little poetry book with paintings that I’ll draw and relate to people and answer certain questions people have been wondering, I have goals and I aim to achieve these goals at any time I’m given that blessing. I eventually want to try to make sure my body is in complete remission and I might try for kids. Also, happy fourth anniversary to my husband Howard.