All About Lauren Lay!
Lauren is going into her second year at ASU this fall to study nursing. She dreams of practicing nursing specifically in developing nations to help people with limited medical care because she has had several hospitalizations herself in the past couple years, and wants to make a positive impact on other people struggling with various health issues. She loves all things bright, cheerful, and full of life and color. She is an enneagram 7! She loves to hangout with friends, and she loves being in the great outdoors! She also loves to travel and learn new things about other people and about the beautiful world that our Lord created.
Check out her story:
Two years ago, I was halfway across the world in Bangladesh, a small country right next to India. I was interning at a humanitarian organization for the summer and staying with my friends from my church back home who had moved to Bangladesh. I volunteered at a variety of different organizations, like a shelter for girls on the street and a kids’ camp that taught Bible stories for an impoverished community. I learned so much about the Bangladeshi people and their culture and a little bit of the language (although I am pretty bad at other languages, which the Bangladeshi children found amusing hahaha).
About halfway into the summer, I started to fall extremely ill. I felt deliriously sick and was in extreme abdominal pain. I grew sicker, and my fever spiked higher even through the meds that were supposed to bring it down. I was scared of having to go to a hospital in this third world nation. I prayed to the Lord again and again that I would get better and not end up in a hospital there. I started getting big bruises all throughout my body and felt the worst I’ve ever felt in my entire life. I laid in my bed for at least a week and prayed and journaled, and I slowly started to regain strength and a small appetite back. I only had a couple more weeks left in Bangladesh, and I returned to my internship after feeling a good bit better. I am so thankful that I never ended up in the hospital. God was (and continues to be) sooooo good!
About two weeks later, I was in Vietnam and got extremely ill again, with weird rashes and lots of time spent throwing up into a toilet. I felt like death itself and those weeks were a blur from then on out until I made it back home to the United States.
Once I got back home to the states, my mom had me go to the doctors because she wanted to make sure that I was okay since I was still not back to feeling normal yet, but the doctors sent me off and said that I was just fine. My mom kept advocating for more testing, and I am thankful for her because she finally got a doctor to draw some labs to see what was going on. And, a couple days later when the results came in, I got a call from the doctor telling me to go straight to the emergency room because my platelets in my blood were extremely low. Platelets are what help blood to clot, so when there are not enough of them, it can cause internal hemorrhaging, leading to death. I have had hospital visit after hospital visit and treatment after treatment since then. I was diagnosed with a rare blood disorder, immune thrombocytopenia purpura, with no known cure or cause, and the doctors just told me that I was predisposed to this disorder, and it could’ve been triggered by a variety of viruses.
When I was first diagnosed, I was so mad! I was confused and upset by the circumstances that I was faced with! I was angry that this disorder seemed to take so much of my life away from me! I was upset that I could no longer play soccer or continue competitive horseback riding! I was frustrated that I was stuck in the hospital during my senior year homecoming week. I hated missing out on all the fun my friends had while I was lying in bed, barely able to move. I could barely walk at times due to how weak and fatigued my body had become. I used to train for sports six days a week and have so much energy before my illness, but then my body became frail, my vision would blur at times, and I was constantly dizzy. I was a very cheerful person before, but when my platelets were low, I felt like crying a lot because with lower platelets comes lower serotonin. I was confused as to why all this was happening. I was angry. I did not accept this as my new reality and embrace the situation at hand. I did not take hold of what God had given me. I had actually been handed a gift, though at times it did not always feel like such a gift. It took me months for me to actually accept this beautiful treasure.
God slowly revealed to me that I was viewing my situation all wrong. I was looking at all the bad things that were happening to me and complaining. I was not thankful for the gift of my trials that give me a chance to grow. Trials give me a chance to put my faith to the test and grow my perseverance, like James 1:2-4 talks about when it says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” And again in Romans it talks about celebrating trials! Whattt?! Celebrating my suffering?! Romans 5:3-4 says, “Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope.” I should be full of hope and thankfulness amidst my suffering. And again in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, it talks about rejoicing through our circumstances when it says, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
I prayed that I would be full of peace, hope, and joy amidst suffering, like Romans 15:13 says, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” I have peace in my heart knowing that God has my health in His hands, which gives me hope for the future and even for today. This peace from the Lord’s security also provides me with joy because He has a plan and I get to be a vessel used for His glory!
I prayed that I would use this trial (gift) that I had been given to glorify the Lord and use my story to share the Good News of Jesus with others. It took me months, but I finally accepted the great gift that I had been given.
Even through all of the hard days and tear-filled nights, I am thankful for where I am today, and I would not take this suffering away for the world because it has grown me more than I ever thought I could. It gave me a chance to tell others about Jesus. Who knew that two years later I would be sitting in my college professors’ offices talking to them about Jesus all because of this gift that I was given? Who knew that I would be talking to students about Jesus all the time because they simply ask about my health, and we talk through the struggles that they are going through and how to cope? God has blessed me with so many great opportunities to share His light with those around me because of these trials that I have been given. In Matthew 5:16 it says, “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” The gift of our trials allows us to shine Jesus’ light even brighter, and I am so thankful to God for this gift (my trials), this gift to shine Him even brighter to those around me and bring Him all the glory that is to come.
Want to Support Lauren in Her ITP Journey?
Click the link below to donate to the Platelet Disorder Support Association (PDSA) to raise awareness for, support, and seek a cure for ITP.
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