Dorothy has always been an athlete. Growing up in Omaha as one of 10 children, she worked hard to make her unique mark playing volleyball at Omaha North High School and went on to earn a full-ride scholarship to Grambling State University in Louisiana. As a collegiate athlete and three-year team captain, she learned much about resilience, human behavior and inclusion, both on and off the court.
“I wouldn’t be who I am today or where I am today without my experience at Grambling,” she said.
Upon graduation, Dorothy came back to Omaha to start a family and put her degree in sociology to work – in child welfare, corrections, post-secondary education and now, diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI).
But Dorothy’s health took a few turns before getting her where she is today – starting back in 2016 with rashes, joint swelling and fatigue. More than once, the pain was so bad she went to the emergency room but was sent home without diagnosis or relief.
“I was just suffering because I didn’t have appropriate access to affordable health care,” Dorothy said. Providers weren’t taking her concerns seriously, her symptoms escalated under high stress, and she transitioned into a deep depression and was unable to work.
She suffered for more than a year before finally getting tested for Lupus Nephritis – an autoimmune disease that causes an individual’s immune system to attack their own body tissues – and connected with a rheumatologist. Fortunately, around the same time in 2017, she was hired by Metropolitan Community College and qualified for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska (BCBSNE) benefits right away.
“[My doctor] got me on a medication regimen that actually, to this day, has me feeling like a college athlete again,” Dorothy said.
Now, she’s able to exercise, pick up an occasional game of volleyball, enjoy time with her husband, play with her two daughters, coach the junior varsity team at her high school alma mater, serve on the Omaha Chamber of Commerce’s CODE Council, and work as the first director of DEI (and first African American female on staff) at Duchesne Academy of the Sacred Heart.
“Though I am chronically dealing with [Lupus], I don’t have to be limited in my care or in the service for my illness,” Dorothy said, thanks to her employer and health benefits through BCBSNE. Knowing not everyone is as fortunate, she is passionate about shedding light on the critical importance of access to high-quality, culturally competent medical care.
Watch more of Dorothy’s story here:
Dorothy’s journey is just one of many. What’s yours? Please visit NebraskaBlue.com/YourStory to share it with BCBSNE and help inspire others.