I wasn’t always sick, although once diagnosed, my illness somehow became my identity. Not for me per say, but everyone around me. I didn’t always have Lupus, I wasn’t always suffering from painful bouts of Colitis due to my IBD and I’d never spent the night in the hospital except after giving birth.

My childhood was a bit tumultuous, but that was to be expected having two parents that continually argued. While my father was an unpredictable, temperamental workaholic, my mother was a compassionate, loving, nurturing homemaker. And together my older sister and I lived a relatively balanced life.

I was an extremely outgoing child, loved to be the center of attention and possessed a deep desire to entertain, regardless of my venue. There wasn’t a birthday party, holiday gathering or classroom talent show where I didn’t end up on the top of some table singing my heart out. My parents would always say I was a “natural,” although looking back I wonder what they  meant by that. Honestly, I didn’t mind as long as all eyes were on me!

I spent most of my childhood  in music, voice and dance lessons. I participated in every summer theater program and was cast in every musical I auditioned for. My life revolved around the stage and as I continued to get older my desire of moving to New York and performing on Broadway were all I could dream about.

I began my college education as a music major, quickly shifted to theater and before I had finished my second year my whole life was turned upside down. I was 23 years old when my mom died of a terribly freak accident. While stepping off the porch  one morning she broke her toe, and a fragment of the bone ended up getting lodged in her lungs and killing her, just before her fifty-fifth birthday.

I was devastated losing my mom at such  a young age, she was everything to me; my cheerleader, my sounding board, my best friend and with a sick father battling Diabetes at home, I knew it would be a long time before I would step foot on any stage, much less one on the east coast.

My older sister sat me down and  in the gentlest way possible explained that our father wasn’t well and it was time I started getting REAL about my future. She suggested that I switch my major to something that could provide me with a solid paycheck , and that’s when I became a  television and film major with an emphasis in screenwriting. I redirected my creativity and passion to perform into storytelling, applied for a college internship on my first REALITY television show and viola! my career began.

My father died shortly after I became a producer, just four year after my mother passed and although I was crushed it was a pivotal moment in my life . I had the choice of allowing my pain and fear to take over me and just give up, or embrace the tools my parents bestowed upon me to fight.

I suffer daily from the painful symptoms that go along with having numerous auto immune diseases, and although it feels like I’m continually being knocked down, I’ve made the conscious decision to NEVER give up!