Absolutely positive

Hello. My name is Gabrielle Solarczyk. I graduated from Upper St. Clair in 2013 and I am very lucky to be one of the summer interns at Mt. Lebanon Magazine. I hope to refine my writing skills and learn new ways of writing while preparing myself for other opportunities in the future. I am grateful for this opportunity to grow and excel. I am a junior at Duquesne University where I major in English with a concentration in writing and a minor in psychology. After I earn my degree, I see myself writing books about Lupus and my journey with this disease and counseling chronically ill children.

Lupus is an auto-immune disease where my immune system becomes hyperactive. Instead of the immune system protecting itself from bad cells such as the flu, my body attacks the good cells thinking they are bad cells. This constant fighting causes daily symptoms such as: joint pain and swelling, rashes, fatigue, headaches, anemia and ulcers just to name a few. This disease has also affected some of my organs and central nervous system. People have asked if I wish I didn’t have this disease and I always answer no. Sometimes that shocks people but I believe I have this disease for a reason, and that reason is to help others not only with Lupus but other diseases like it. I have created an inspirational blog called Spread Your Wings 4 Lupus that not only shares my story but spreads awareness about Lupus. I have also created my own non-profit, 501(c)(3), organization called the Hope for Lupus SocietyWith this society my goal is to help others who have this disease so they do not struggle daily. My plans are not only to fundraise and raise awareness but also to help people pay for co-pays and doctor appointments, prescriptions. For those who cannot drive (like me!) due to seizure activity or other limitations, I hope to find ways to supply some sort of car or shuttle service to and from appointments.

Since I was a chronically ill child, I understand the daily struggles and believe that I can help other children and show them there is more to life than being sick. I want to counsel chronically ill kids because I can help them through these hard times and show them they are not alone and others do understand. I refuse to let Lupus define me. Lupus is something you have, not something you are. You can choose to see the positive side of life—that is the way I choose to live my life!

When I am not busy with school or working on plans for my foundation, I love reading fantasy books with vivid imagery that take readers on a journey or mystery books that keep me guessing to the last page, watching TV shows or movies such as Criminal Minds and Grey’s Anatomy, taking photos all around the South Hills (black and white photos are my favorite), hanging with my family and friends including laughing and making great memories, listening to music such as Against the Current, Tonight Alive and Paramore, as well as going to see live bands, and watching our local sports teams including the Steelers and Penguins.

I live with my mom, Cheryl, and my rescue dog, a German shepherd dog mix named Riley. I believe in rescuing dogs and other pets, especially older animals that don’t always get the second chance they deserve. Riley, rescued at six, is part of the Red Collar Society, because he is an older dog who got a second chance. He is an important part of my life because he is also my service dog and recognizes when I am going to become very sick. When I went into the hospital two years ago for something called Lupus Enteritis, where Lupus attacked my gastrointestinal system, I was in the hospital for 10 days and nearly died. Riley somehow knew I was sick way before I knew it. He constantly laid on my stomach like he was trying to tell me something and would not leave my side. He also recognizes before I am going to have a seizure and again will not leave my side even after the fact. Unfortunately, he is a little too old to take with me daily because he is 12 years old now. I didn’t just rescue him; he has rescued me on many occasions. We recently added to our family: a Betta fish and snail named Perseus and Grover from one of my favorite book series.

My older brother, Josh, is getting married this fall to his fiancée, Kate! I am excited for this joyous occasion and to officially call Kate my sister. She has already been a wonderful addition to our family and I cannot wait to share and support them on their wonderful day. I am proud to be a groomswoman and stand at my brother’s side because we are so close. He has always been someone I admire and am glad to call him one of my best friends.

I am excited to have this opportunity at Mt. Lebanon Magazine to not only work alongside wonderful people but to be a part of and share inspirational stories. Being able to write and do what I love while learning is a great experience. I will apply not only what I learn to my everyday living but to my blog and nonprofit. These skills will be immensely useful in doing what I want and love to do in life which is share my story, spread awareness about Lupus, help others and make a difference.

Gabrielle’s foundation is hosting a fundraiser on May 24. Read about it here