Survivors, supporters walk for Lupus awareness

By Debra Messick
Posted 5/16/24

For the second year, Robin M. Sample led others in proudly putting on purple for a 2 1/4 mile walk through downtown Cambridge, to raise awareness of Lupus.

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Survivors, supporters walk for Lupus awareness

Posted

CAMBRIDGE - For the second year, Robin M. Sample led others in putting on purple for a 2 1/4 mile walk through downtown Cambridge, to raise awareness of Lupus.

Sample and a cohort of others battling the debilitating chronic disease daily, along with a cadre of supportive family and friends, came together 74 strong May 11 on a mission that's now become an annual tradition.

The goal is to raise awareness of the often invisible affliction, which many battle alone, often silently, and to raise funds for research and treatment. There are currently only three FDA medications approved for Lupus patients.

Many on the Walk shared that their diagnosis and offered confirmation that their symptoms were real, instead of being dismissed as “all in their head” by less knowledgeable practitioners.

Sample, herself, was diagnosed in 2014, after several years of struggling to find out the reason she was experiencing rashes, hair loss, extreme fatigue, and pain.

She sais she has at least 12 tumors throughout her body, in her kidneys, lungs, and brain stem cortex.

Throughout her own Lupus journey, Sample has often fielded an array of questions about what it is, what it does, and how it affects her personal and work life.

“For a long time, I wanted to do something to help raise people’s awareness about Lupus, and to bring people suffering from it together,” Sample said.

Last year, with an outpouring of personal and community support, she initiated the Lupus Walk, a loop from Long Wharf, through Poplar and Race Streets, onto historic Pine Street, down Academy Street, and back to Long Wharf.

Sample’s children, JaQuay Aeisha, Ronald ‘Jay’ Beasley and John Ferguson III, helped with registration, prepping participants’ “swag bags,” and other crucial tasks.

Troy Cephas, owner, and CEO of Cephas Transportation LLC, donated a school bus and his time driving, offering those unable to manage the walk a way to participate.

Business people and community professionals stepped  to offer water and cooling stations for the walkers. Among them were Elbert, Dormaim, and Destin Green of The Property Shoppe, Deadrin and Sheila Jones of Jones Mini Mart, and Omeakia Jackson of Harvesting Hope Youth and Family Services.

Following registration, check-in at the purple and silver balloon bedecked Long Wharf table, and fellowship, Sample’s pastor, the Rev. Dana Porter- Ashton, Union Chapel A.M.E., led the assembled group in prayer. Pastor Tenishia Johnson-Tillery, Liberated Ministries,  provided the day’s closing prayer.

Just prior to embarking on the 10 a.m. to noon walk, Sample asked several fellow survivors to join her in sharing testimony of their Lupus journeys.

Those who spoke included Daniel Mills, Kataya Chester, Cynthia Spencer, Nashwell Cousins, and Miriam Moran.

By the day of the walk, $425 in person and online donations had been raised. 

Those unable to attend the walk will soon be able to view the event via the documentary being filmed that day, "My Life, My Fight, Conquering Lupus," produced by Turkessa ‘Tee’ Harris of The Keys Productions and directed by Dr. Tamika Hall, owner of faith-based publisher TamikalNK.

Dr. Hall’s awareness of Sample’s life battles goes back to 2016 and her publication of Sample’s first book, "When I Stopped Being Angry With God."

The book detailed numerous traumas throughout her life with domestic violence, rape, alcohol dependence, multiple suicide attempts, and childhood trauma.

“I have experienced two rapes at the ages of 13 and 15. As a domestic violence victim, I was severely beaten and left for dead in a field and thrown from a moving vehicle. I've had to beg for my life while staring down the barrel of a close-range gun pointed at my face, burned with cigarettes, urinated on, and forced to perform sex acts against my will,” she said.

“Being a victim of childhood bullying resulted in my first suicide ideations, and several failed subsequent attempts,” Sample said.

She detailed her collateral journeys through low self-esteem, lack of self-worth, poor body image, fears, and insecurities, and especially, anger with God.

“I felt that He didn't love me or care about me due to all the hurt, pain, and abuse I had endured,” Sample said.

She has since authored four solo books and contributed to 22 anthology projects. Published in June 2023, the first anthology she initiated, "I Made It To The Other Side of Through,” earned Amazon’s No. 1 Best Seller ranking in 13 categories, Sample said.

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