What makes you get up every morning and gives you reason to smile? For Trisha Duncan, it’s doing the things that she loves. “Cooking and trying out new dishes, exercising, watching movies and series, reading books, trying out new makeup, and spending time with my family and friends,” enumerates the 25-year-old.
“Meditation helps calm me down and realign my focus,” she adds. “I’m also part of Bible study groups as reading the Word of God keeps me sane most especially during these difficult times.
“Life is beautiful. No matter how many times we fall down, we must always get up and fight.” (Read: 3 Blessing Prayers for Everyday Positivity)
It’s an inspiring outlook from someone whose immune system routinely attacks her body’s tissues and organs. That’s what happens when you have lupus, an autoimmune disease Trisha was diagnosed with in 2015. Modeling since she was 5 years old, she was forced to stop when the telltale signs—falling hair, rashes all over her face and body—saw her confidence plummet.
Six years since her diagnosis, she remains vulnerable to a host of disease, and was recently in the hospital. But she also continues to live her life as a social media manager, motivational speaker, member of Hope For Lupus (HFL) Foundation, and yes, model—with purpose, this time around. “To help raise awareness on my condition,” she says.
Trisha keeps My Pope Philippines up to speed on her health, what she’s up to these days, and what she wants us to know about people with lupus.
What keeps you busy these days?
I’ve been working as a social media manager at a fashion studio based in Quezon City for more than a year now. Since the pandemic started, we have been working from home to keep ourselves safe as we weather through COVID-19. All the work I do is digital, so I am constantly online, communicating with clients and our team. I’m very grateful for this setup as I get to take care of my health and have more time with my family. Aside from work, I keep myself busy by doing the things I love. (Read: Liza Soberano Opens Up About Anxiety, Shares Tips for Good Mental Health)
How are you now, health-wise?
Since lupus patients are immunocompromised, we are prone to infections and other diseases. One night when my fever wasn’t going down anymore, my mom called my rheumatologist who told her to bring me to the ER immediately. With all the protocols before admission, we had to comply and wait for negative results of my swab test before getting a room. My mom fought tooth and nail to have me stay in a separate isolation room instead of the usual tents, as I cannot be with other COVID-19 suspects.
I was hospitalized for two weeks due to sepsis and an infection that affected my lungs. My blood levels went very low so I was given one round of blood transfusion. My condition was very critical, I kept praying to God heal me as soon as possible. (Read: How This Woman Copes With Her Lung Disease, One Grateful Day at a Time)
I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the people who helped me get through my recent hospitalization. Dr. Daisy Tagarda (Infectious Disease) and Dr. Charito Bermudez (Rheumatologist) for giving me the best treatment in eliminating all infections, the nurses for tirelessly checking my vitals to make sure I’m stable, the maintenance staff for cleaning my room every day, and lastly the people who prayed for me and sent their support. To God be the glory!
That was serious. What kept you going?
My faith in the Lord. I believed in my heart He would not forsake me as He had done before during the times I needed Him the most.
What opportunities have opened up to you because of lupus?
Because of the relationships I’ve cultivated through the years in modeling, friends and editors were encouraging me to start modeling again. I gained a renewed confidence in myself and realized I became a model with purpose, using it as a platform to help raise awareness on my condition. It gave me wonderful opportunities like collaborating with different brands, doing a commercial, my first cover with a top fashion magazine, and representing the Philippines in Thailand as one of the most proportioned faces in Asia. I even got two billboards along EDSA and C5 when I was chosen as one of the ambassadors for a non-invasive face treatment brand.
Just when I thought I wouldn’t be able to get back into modeling, God gave me opportunities I never thought I would be able to experience, and I will always be grateful for that.
What would you like people to know about persons like you who are diagnosed with lupus?
Not all illnesses or disabilities are visible to the naked eye. Just because someone looks normal on the outside does not mean they are not experiencing any pain inside their bodies. Lupus is a complicated condition so we have to be patient in explaining it to others so they could understand it better.