Tackling Lupus

Morgan Bentley Holdway might look like your average college girl, but hidden beneath is a world of pain


Morgan Bentley Holdway

Morgan Bentley Holdway plans to use her fitness platform to inform others that even though you might have a painful disease, your health should be first.

Morgan Bentley Holdway, marketing senior, wakes up in the morning and checks for small red marks on her body. Marks that will let her know if a lupus flare up is in her future.

On days when the lupus flare has arrived, she cannot even make it out of bed.

Bentley Holdway woke up one morning with a butterfly rash across her face and thought nothing of it. Months later, pain and fatigue would begin to set in. In Dec. 2015, she was diagnosed with lupus.

Learning of Lupus

Lupus is a systemic autoimmune disease that causes the immune system to attack living organs and tissues within the body. Those will lupus can experience fatigue, rashes, fever, joint and muscle pain. The disease currently has no cure.

When first diagnosed, Bentley Holdway expressed her anger. She was a newlywed and lupus did not fit into her plan.

“I felt guilty, that’s not what my husband signed up for … that’s not the life I expected for myself as a newly wedded twenty year-old,” Bentley Holdway said.

She must plan her days around her disease in hopes that a flare up does not occur. Taking simple precautions such as limiting sun exposure and not demanding too much of her body can save her from a day of pain.

“I can have a completely normal day … but I have to be aware that there will be consequences,” Bentley Holdway said.

Some days she cannot move laundry from the washer to the dryer. Other days, she is squatting 200 lbs.

Alexis Fraley, nursing junior, is one of Bentley Holdway’s friends and sorority sister. Fraley has been by Bentley Holdway’s side for the majority of her Lupus journey and has partaken in doctors visits for moral support.

“I have seen her be strong enough to get up out of bed each day, work on her health and mind as much as she possibly can, be involved in the community and in Alpha Phi, teach the community about Lupus, and be encouraging to others about being their healthiest and happy selves,” Fraley said.

Lupus is, lupus is hell.”

— Morgan Bentley Holdway, marketing senior

Fighting the Pain

Recently, Bentley Holdway went sledding when the last winter storm came through the area. Even though she knew this would keep her in bed for the next few days, she said it was worth the pain.

When making plans, she must be careful of not putting too much into her schedule. Busy days can lead to days spent in bed unable to do a simple task, such as loading the dishwasher, or washing her own hair.

However, she does not let the pain get her down.

“Lupus is something no one talks about. You can’t tell someone has lupus by looking at them,” Bentley Holdway said.

She speaks of a time when she had to use a scooter in a public place to get around because she was physically unable to walk. It was during this time that she was shamed by someone she did not know for taking a scooter from someone who they say could have used it.

“Don’t judge someone … that was one of the most humiliating moments of my life.” Bentley Holdway said.

People, like actress Selena Gomez, who suffer from Lupus, have taken their platforms to educate the public. It’s people like this that Bentley Holdway says will help change the idea of the disease.

Her goal is to develop her own platform through her fitness blog on Instagram. She has used her social media to get involved with other members of the fitness community who are going through their own struggles with diseases.  

“I’m trying to show that even though you have these obstacles in your way, that if you push through them things will get better,” Bentley Holdway said.

By pushing past the pain, she has gained not only external strength but has also found a strength within herself that allows her to take charge of her disease. She credits her new fitness journey for helping her feel the best she’s felt since her diagnosis.

“Lupus is something no one talks about. You can’t tell someone has lupus by looking at them,” Bentley Holdway said. Photo courtesy of Morgan Bentley Holdway.

Support Systems

Bentley Holdway credits her support systems for giving her the strength to move forward.

“Through IUS Greek life, my family, my husband, my friends, that has been detrimental to my success … I could not do this by myself.” Bentley Holdway said.

She expresses her gratitude for her husband the most for not leaving her side and celebrating her accomplishments.

“He tells me he is proud of me no matter what I am doing. And that just means so much to me.” she said.

When asked to explain in her own words what lupus is, Bentley Holdway took no time to answer.

“Lupus is, lupus is hell. And no one else can see it but you,” Bentley Holdway said.

Bentley Holdway encourages those who are not educated on the subject to reach out to someone who suffers from an autoimmune disease or do research. She believes that the more educated the public becomes, the sooner diseases like this will become something of the past.

Looking toward the future, she plans to finish her degree and put her skills to use while fighting for a cure.

“Lupus has changed her but it has not destroyed nor has it taken away the beautiful soul and personality that she has,” Fraley said.