Shereece Harris – Lupus Warrior and Survivor

By Dawn Scotland
The Truth Reporter

Shereece Harris is a lupus warrior and survivor. Her story is a living testimony of the trials and resilience of living with an autoimmune disease.

Harris, a Toledo native, is a Toledo Public Schools educator, mother and grandmother.

Now 41, she has been battling the disease since she was 19.

The onset came suddenly.

“When I was around 19, I started getting really sick and I was getting a lot of tests done—they were saying my platelet count was low”, she recalled. The doctors were considering taking out her spleen because they thought that was the initial issue.

“After they had started doing more tests, they figure out it was lupus.”

Lupus is a chronic (long-term) disease that can cause inflammation and pain in any part of your body. It’s an autoimmune disease, which means that your immune system — the body system that usually fights infections — attacks healthy tissue instead. (source:

As a teenager she wasn’t aware of the disease. “I didn’t take it seriously at all. So, I wasn’t taking my medicine or anything until I got sick for the very first time. It was a wakeup call that this was serious,” she said.

She was in the hospital for two months, was unable to feed herself and had to learn to walk again. Miraculously, Harris recovered.

Harris has lupus nephritis that affects her kidneys. There are different types of the autoimmune disease that affect different organs of the body, from the skin to kidneys and other internal organs. Because lupus affects many parts of the body, it can cause a lot of different symptoms. (source:

Her blood pressure became dangerously high and damaged her kidneys. At about the age of 24 she developed end stage renal failure and had to go on dialysis. Harris endured dialysis for four and a half years and, thankfully, she was the recipient of a kidney transplant in 2014.

“After I got the transplant, I thought everything was going to be great.” She got married, later divorced and experienced relatively no issues with lupus.

At the end of 2018 she started to have problems again. This time with her heart.

“I had to have an aortic dissection. It’s basically when the main artery in your heart tears. [The doctors] were saying it was tearing by the minute. I had been rushed to the hospital from work,” she said.

She had to be life flighted to Cleveland Clinic. “They weren’t even sure if I was going to make it to Cleveland.”

Harris did make it to Cleveland and had emergency surgery to repair her heart. She made it out and was in recovery in Cleveland Clinic for a month.

Unfortunately, there was so much wear and tear on her body that her transplanted kidney went into rejection, and she had to go on dialysis again. She received her second transplant in 2021.

The following year, she had a heart attack. Where she had to get life flighted to Cleveland Clinic again and they had to put a heart stint in.

With all the pain and uncertainty, she experienced with lupus she is now serving as a living witness of survival, and triumph.

As of a year now her lupus has been in complete remission. “I don’t take medicine for lupus now…I don’t have flare ups and when I take blood work lupus isn’t even detected,” she stated.

Harris isn’t the only one in her family with the disease. She has multiple cousins on her father’s side who also have lupus and an aunt that was just diagnosed a year ago. Her second cousin, Rachelle Roy, organizer of the Living With Lupus Walk weekend (the fourth annual weekend will be held May 17-19) also has other relatives with lupus. Roy, in fact, has relatives on both her father’s and mother’s side with lupus even though scientists say it is not hereditary.

The disease affects everyone in different ways. Roy was not diagnosed with lupus until she was 41 and her symptoms have not been similar to her cousin’s. Her version of lupus is discoid lupus. Discoid lupus scars her face and it has also taken away her eyebrows. She sees a dermatologist, rheumatologist and a family doctor to control her lupus and also watch how much stress and sun she allows in her life.

“If you look at a lot of us,” Harris stated, “It doesn’t look like we’ve been through anything or that anything is wrong. You wouldn’t know anything is going on unless we tell you. We all still look great!”

Out of her family she has been diagnosed the longest. And often had to face her toughest battles alone. Harris decided to create the Facebook group called ‘Living with Lupus’.

“Since I’ve dealt with it so long,” she stated, “I try to help other people to have a better understanding.” Harris recommends doctors, offers support and resources on her page. “Just to let people know that you’re not by yourself dealing with this.”

Harris has advice for other people dealing with the disease.

“Don’t feel like this is the end because it’s not the end. I’m a living witness that it can go into remission, and it can be treated…Don’t let it control your life. You control it.

“It’s going to look like it’s not getting better… It will get better. Just take care of yourself and pray.” She is a member of Walk the Word Ministries.

“I have a lot of scars and I used to be so embarrassed of my scars but now…these are my war wounds,” she shared.

May is Lupus Awareness Month. To learn more about the disease, help fundraise and support those affected visit

The Toledo Living with Lupus weekend includes: a bowling night from 7 to 11 p.m. on Friday, May 17 at All Strikes Lane; a wig giveaway on Saturday from 1 to 5 p.m. at 1010 Dorr Street; a karaoke event at The Trunk on Saturday night from 7 to 11 p.m.; the Walk at Ottawa Park on Sunday starting at 9 a.m.

For more information email –