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Overcoming the Odds: From Banker to Behcet's Disease Survivor

“Be thankful and happy!” Esther was diagnosed with Behcet's disease in 2015. She underwent multiple operations and chemotherapy treatments to control her condition, and eventually found the best combination with bimonthly injections and daily medications that put her condition into remission in 2019.

Esther Er

Hi, I’m Esther and I’m a freelance consultant helping others to be a better version of themselves. I am also a former banker and love to bake, read, cook, and go for walks with my dog.

In 2015, I was diagnosed with Behcet's disease. It is a form of vasculitis and my symptoms are recurring mouth, gut, and genital ulcers. My then GP near my workplace suspected that I had Behcet’s and referred me to a rheumatologist who later confirmed my diagnosis. It was a painful journey of operation after operation to remove my affected gut. I had half of my large and small intestines removed due to proliferation. I was in ICU a few times due to excessive loss of blood during the operations. This was followed by various trial-and-error chemotherapy treatments to find the best combination to control my condition since mine affected 3 areas.

I quit my full-time job in 2016 to take a break and personally I became less socially active as I needed to be very careful not to be around sick people since I was on immunosuppressant drugs which put me at a higher risk of being infected. Finally, the doctors found the best combination of bimonthly injections and daily medications that put my condition into remission from 2019 onwards. I now lead a normal life, with minimal medications and injections. I’m thankful for my friends and family, especially my husband and kids who stood by me. God, my church friends, and close friends have helped me greatly to navigate this journey and adapt to my condition by praying for me, being there for me, and understanding that at times I can't be socially active to meet as often. They also try to meet me at my home instead of in public areas where there are viruses around. Sufficient rest and sleep, moderate exercise and good clean nutrition revolving around whole fresh, unprocessed foods have also greatly helped me go into remission.

Interestingly, Covid-19 has helped me greatly as social distancing and mask-wearing have brought down the chances of infection for me. I feel safer as most people are isolated or further away from me when outside and I don't have to meet large groups of people.

My advice to someone with an autoimmune disease is to stay positive by sleeping lots, exercising, eating good healthy food, laughing a lot by hanging out with positive people, and avoiding toxic people. Basically, be thankful and happy!

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