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Ambassador Spotlight: Marisa Zeppieri-Caruana

As a health journalist, blogger and Lupus patient, I am always on the lookout for innovative products that can help someone going through a chronic or terminal illness. DripDrop immediately caught my eye because dehydration can quickly become a major issue for someone who is fighting a disease. Through my own health struggles, I learned that staying hydrated is key in keeping the body at optimum levels, helping it do a better job combating other issues taking place. Lupus, a chronic inflammatory autoimmune disease, is still a mystery to many. In fact, according to the Lupus Foundation of America, in the age group at highest risk (18-34 years old), 72 percent have never heard of the disease or know little to nothing about it. It is because of statistics like this and my own personal experiences, that I have made it my mission to spread awareness.

When someone is diagnosed with an illness that has no cure, life drastically changes. No one hands you a manual that prepares you for what is ahead. Thankfully, today’s social media explosion is changing this, however, 15 years ago there weren’t many blogs or online communities that could have given me a heads up on what to expect. So, I decided to take matters into my own hands. I began volunteering for The Lupus Foundation of America’s Florida chapter, eventually becoming a board member, and I also founded LupusChick.com, now a 501c3. I thought it was important to create a safe environment where men and women of any age could get honest advice from people that are not only living with the disease, but also thriving. I wanted the site to stress the positive, the inspirational and the motivational. (In fact, this year we will give out our first Lupus scholarship to an inspirational Lupus patient in college.)  Raw and intentional are two additional words I would use to describe LupusChick. Our writers do not hold back when telling their story, me included. When readers see how well I am doing at this time, I think it is important for them to know where I came from and how I got to this point.

One of the most difficult aspects to get across to others about Lupus is the concept of invisible illness. Most people think I am in perfect health when they look at me. However, those who know me have seen the strokes, brain aneurysm, jaundice, heart and blood issues and over 30 hospitalizations I have experienced. I would approximate seven or eight of those hospitalizations were due to dehydration and its effect on my heart! Systemic Lupus can literally affect any area of the body and cause inflammation.

Occasionally, during a flare I would be unable to eat or keep solids and liquid down, or the variety of medication I was on caused severe stomach issues. I remember how incredible I would feel after a few bags of IV fluids – boy, how I wish I had DripDrop back then! Trips to the hospital are an added burden on someone who is very ill – long nights, being put at risk for catching other illnesses, and expensive hospital bills. Though DripDrop would have been especially helpful when I went through a round of chemo years ago, I am very excited to share DripDrop with my Lupus family who are on chemo today and having stomach and dehydration issues. I would also like to stress to them the importance of being vigilant in staying hydrated when going through a flare-up. Lupus is notorious for causing relentless fevers – some that can last for days, weeks and even months, and fever is notorious for causing dehydration. Common Lupus symptoms like fever and inflammation, in conjunction with strong pharmaceutical options that can produce stomach issues, make DripDrop a top contender for being a Lupus patient’s best friend!

I look forward to seeing the future impact DripDrop has in the chronic illness community. Those of us living with chronic illness need all of the support we can get and I believe products like this are literally little life-savers that can help us prevent greater, life-threatening issues.

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Marisa Zeppieri-Caruana is a health journalist, author and founder of LupusChick.com, an online chronic illness community. A Lupus patient for 14 years, she is a board member for the Lupus Foundation of America and health advocate. She tackles multiple health areas through her Huffington Post blog and US News articles and is currently wrapping up a memoir on chronic illness. To further spread her platform and awareness on the topic of Lupus, Marisa is taking LupusChick national this year as she competes at Mrs. USA Universal in Reno this coming June. She is the reigning Mrs. New York USA Universal 2015.

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