A Chameleon to Lupus

Read Barbara's Story

Barbara Abrams has lived with lupus for 40 years — her approach is to expect the unexpected and to do the best she can every day.

“Things just happen with lupus, and I’ve learned to accept the uncertainty,” says Barbara. “I have learned many wellness techniques to adapt to my situation.”

Goes with the Flow

Like too many people with lupus, Barbara’s situation has not been easy. One complication of her lupus is thickening of the blood, which led to a stroke in her eye, leaving her with no peripheral vision. "Because the blood was too thick to circulate properly, some of the vessels in my brain atrophied, and my head still hurts at times. I will have to take a blood thinner and be constantly monitored for the rest of my life.”  But Barbara’s answer is to simply do what needs to be done — never missing a doctor’s appointment or test, using eyeglasses to read and wearing sunglasses outdoors to protect her eyes from the glare. 

Because she developed scar tissue in her intestinal track, Barbara has cut out sugary drinks and spicy foods to prevent inflammation. In response to her body’s hypersensitivity to the environment, she makes sure to wear a cap or wig when she goes out and spends most of her time indoors. Barbara learned the hard way that her body cannot tolerate cold; she caught pneumonia last year going from the air conditioned subway cars into the hot sun and then into an air conditioned office building. Heavy antibiotics were necessary to combat the bacteria. Now, she does her best to avoid the weather outside in winter and air conditioning in summer.

Taking many medications to treat her various manifestations of lupus, Barbara describes having to take all her “goodies” with her whenever she leaves home. “I don’t drink or smoke to cut down on possible triggers that might cause a flare. I don’t stay up late and get plenty of rest. I’ve learned to adapt. I’m a chameleon to lupus.”

Active in the Community

Barbara has participated in lupus research for several years, providing blood samples for testing. “I love being in trials because I’m getting medical attention I wouldn’t have otherwise.”

Devoted to the S.L.E. Lupus Foundation’s Brooklyn Outreach Center, Barbara considers the members her family. “The Brooklyn support group gave me a place to belong when I had nowhere else to turn. It is a loving place with people who always understand me.”

Despite limitations, at 67 Barbara is also active in her Brooklyn community. She volunteers at a nearby senior center and is a block watcher. Perhaps most unique, Barbara is a designated graffiti cleaner, dedicated to keeping her neighborhood spic and span.
“I have shaped my life so I can adapt no matter what is thrown at me. Lupus makes its own decisions, and I make mine. I choose to do the best I can each and every day.”


Barbara Abrams

Thanks for sharing your story about your health challenges over the past 40 years. I've known you for at least 30 years, and I can attest to the strength that you demonstrated over the years. You are a positive example to me and many others, and no matter what, you are always there supporting, sharing, and loving family and friends. You are a remarkable individual, and I pray that you will continue to shine as you always do without allowing anything or anyone getting in your way. You are an inspiration, and I am always here when you need me. I appreciate your friendship tremendously.

Barbara has always been a

Barbara has always been a great inspiration to me, nothing is difficult or cannot be done. Her many friends and buddies at GRIOT Cricle; the senior center where she volunteers almost everyday feel that same. This story is typical Barbara, she is clear about her world and her place in it. I've known her for over 10 years and that smile you see in her picture is always present through it all. Hats off to you my loving sister, keep up the tanacity. Bob Marley said in one of his songs, "get up stand up, don't give up the fight." or something like that.

A women with strong convictions

I have known Barbara for nearly ten years. Our friendship is base on mutual respect and love. She always stands loyal to her beliefs. Barbara's health is not something she displays or uses as a crutch, oh no... she is bold, powerful and dignified. She is the healthiest person I know!

I am 38 yrs old and have been

I am 38 yrs old and have been dealing with Lupus for about seven years. It's affecting my organs and neurological. It's very hard but I'm not giving up. I take it minute by minute. I was very active before I got sick. Changed my lifestyle.

This is a wonderful and

This is a wonderful and inspiring story. She is so brave to continue the fight against Lupus for 40 years. Thank you Barbara for sharing your story!

Dealing with lupus for 28 years


I applaud you for taking such an active road in dealing with your lupus, while getting the community aware of this devastating illness. I too have been on that long road, for 28 years. It is quite difficult many times, but I have to keep going and not give up. I am interested in having a walkathon and blood drive for lupus in the spring in Queens, NY. Continue your fight, you are an inspiration for everyone!