Most college students spend spring break lounging on the beach or hitting the ski slopes, but Megan Brohman, a Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska (BCBSNE) information services intern, spent her last spring break in the hospital.
Brohman, then a University of Nebraska at Lincoln (UNL) student, had been struggling with health problems since the fall of 2017 when routine blood work revealed she had a low platelet disorder. After being treated with steroids and seeing no improvement, Brohman started chemo/immune-therapy.
The treatment caused Brohman’s immune system to weaken, which led to her hospitalization over spring break. Brohman underwent more testing and discovered she had a predisposition to rheumatoid diseases. While the discovery was a step in the right direction, many aspects of Brohman’s life changed.
“After my hospitalization, I never went back to UNL,” Brohman said. “I wasn’t allowed to be around large groups of people or live in my apartment because of potential exposure to other illnesses. My immune system was still recovering.”
With a doctor’s note, Brohman finished the last six weeks of spring semester remotely, canceled her housing lease and moved back to Omaha so her parents could help her. New symptoms of joint inflammation and stiffness and more tests in June revealed she has Lupus, an autoimmune disease that causes the body’s immune system to attack its own tissues and organs.
There is no cure for Lupus, but Brohman isn’t letting the disease slow her down. She has a treatment plan and routine in place to keep her symptoms in check.
“I can’t work all day or stay up all night doing homework,” Brohman said. “I know when to cut myself back. It’s just finding the right balance.”
Now a University of Nebraska at Omaha senior on track to graduate in May of 2019 with a bachelor’s degree in business, Brohman is looking towards the future.
“I think it’s going to be the hardest at this point in my life because I’m tackling so many different things at once,” Brohman said. “I think once I get school done and I can focus more on my career, it’ll be okay.”
Despite the life changes Lupus has forced Brohman to make, she isn’t bitter about her diagnosis or her “new normal.”
“You have to just be positive about it and try not to look at the downsides of ‘oh, why am I dealing with this?’” Brohman said. “Nope, this is what I have to do now. You tackle it one day at a time.”