Living a Full Life with Lupus, Art and a Horse Named Latte

Shawna with her pup and her tote bag that can be found at Michaels Stores across the US.

High school junior Shawna loves animals. Her favorite activity is riding her American Quarter horse, Latte, and she loves playing with her miniature Australian Shepherd. She hopes to be a veterinarian when she grows up.

“She’s very laidback, very introspective and empathetic toward others. Always willing to help,” Nicole, Shawna’s mom said. “She would make a great vet one day.”

Shawna was diagnosed when she was nine years old with an autoimmune disorder that would cause her to bleed and bruise easily, called idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura, or ITP. Living with ITP, she missed out on a lot of normal activities as a child. She wasn’t able to climb trees, jog or train her horses any longer. A few years later, she was diagnosed with lupus. Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease that has no cure. Because her immune system is constantly attacking her own tissues and organs, Shawna must go in for chemo immune suppressant treatments every six months at Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital.

“For somebody with lupus, she stays very very busy with theater, church and school. This disease isn’t slowing her down,” Nicole said.

Despite having to limit her activity with horses, her mom still allows Shawna to ride and care for Latte. She sees the happiness this brings her daughter and that’s something she doesn’t want the disease to take away.

During Shawna’s last chemo treatment, she was asked by an art therapist to make a holiday-themed drawing for Starlight. Art therapy is a common therapeutic technique to encourage patients to freely express themselves through different mediums of art. Shawna, of course, decided to draw an animal. 

“She made the painting during the chemo infusion and it took her mind off of the fact that her back was hurting and got to focus on that,” Nicole said. “That was a huge blessing for us.”

Shawna’s Artwork Available at a Michaels Store Near You

Michaels Stores selected Shawna’s artwork to be featured on a winter tote bag that is now sold at Michaels Stores across the nation.

Shawna loves to think about her family and her pets when she’s in the hospital and she hopes this cute puppy brings everyone holiday cheer and is a reminder to enjoy the time spent with loved ones and four-legged friends.

The totes are available at Michaels Stores while supplies last. Proceeds of each bag go directly to Starlight, so we can continue our mission to bring joy and comfort to hospitalized kids and their families.

About the Author

Tara Millspaugh

Digital Media Manager

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