Devyn Mitchell
Devyn Mitchell
(Photo Provided)

As a licensed mental health therapist, Devyn Mitchell is well acquainted with supporting other people through challenging periods of life; however, after 5 years of isolated symptoms of unknown cause, Devyn was diagnosed with lupus, an autoimmune condition that impacts all parts of the body, and she found herself needing support.

Lupus has impacted many aspects of her life – physically, mentally, and socially. Devyn, a six-time marathoner, had to reduce her active lifestyle due to symptoms of fatigue and joint pain. Her daily medication regimen was not only a new normal, but also impacted her physically. Symptoms such as hair loss and blood flow issues, due to Raynaud’s syndrome, caused mental health struggles and confidence issues. As her body continues to change day by day, Devyn has to adapt to this every day.

Although lupus is a difficult disease, Devyn looks to the positive side and says that it has allowed her to be more intentional about her health and support system. In 2018, she joined the Lupus Foundation of America (LFA), with the local support group, and later transitioned to serve as the facilitator of the group in 2019. Through the LFA, Devyn spreads awareness and participates in events around the community as an LFA Ambassador. In her personal space, Devyn has educated her family and loved ones on her disease and turned them into advocates as well.

In 2020, she was introduced to the Lupus Research Program (LRP) by another member of the LFA, and she thought it would be a great way to educate herself on the ways that the research community is working toward improving quality of life for people with lupus. Additionally, she wanted to advocate for the lupus community on a new, clinical level that many advocates do not get to experience but which affects all. Devyn joined the LRP as a consumer peer reviewer in fiscal year 2021 (FY21) and again in FY22. As she participates in peer review, she advocates from a broad perspective, considering the struggles and concerns of the people in her support group, family members, and caregivers.

Working with the scientific community to review potential lupus research has opened Devyn’s eyes to a new side of the fight to improve the quality of life for people with lupus: the science. She is amazed by how much work is being done to develop new therapies and to learn more about the disease. In her view, the scientists involved in lupus research are passionate about creating therapies to cure.

“I think [the lupus consumer advocate community] would be surprised to know that such [LRP] programs exist,” she said. “I think they would also be surprised about the work involved and knowing that it is not an easy or short process.”

Devyn hopes that more lupus patients have the opportunity to participate, as it has helped her be more involved in her own journey.

The views, opinions, and/or findings contained in this paper are those of the author(s) and should not be construed as an official Department of Defense position, policy, or decision.

Last updated Friday, December 22, 2023