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Julie's Story

Julie and I had always been extremely close as we grew up on a remote farm in mid Wales. We shared our birthday on the same date, September 21st. We kind of knew what the other was thinking and feeling; this connection grew stronger as we grew older .

 Julie found fame at the age of 10 when she was chosen by the welsh TV channel S4C, our version of Channel 4, who visited her school, to star in her own programme, the world of Julie Green.

This gave Julie a lot of confidence and the dream of being a TV presenter one day. I was far shyer than Julie at these early years. She shone in school and was a true academic, I on the other hand shunned school and wished to become a millionaire!!!

Julie never had any serious health problems; I was the one that ended up in hospital with an appendix operation and looked up to Julie with her air of confidence that she possessed no matter what.

Julie began experiencing ill health when the huge transition began from leaving school with A Levels to University. She, like myself, always put 100 % into what we really wanted to do and for Julie it was achieving her PHD that was so important, so that she could pursue her career in television. I moved away from home at the same time Julie left for Uni to work managing a herd of cows in Dorset, as I could not get along with my father on the home farm. She worked so hard and became very stressed when I drove to meet her on weekends. She missed our close family home life and felt a little lost in the big wide world. I on the other hand was loving my new found freedom and our roles reversed: where now I was the one motivating Julie.

She became very tired at times and when she went to see our local doctor on my mums advice ( my mum was a state registered nurse before marriage ) the doctor thought that she was suffering because of her growing pains in that she was a late developer,  and her body was still changing; causing the drowsiness. She would often just sleep on returning home for long periods and seemed unhappy with her life. She confided in me that she felt there was something more serious wrong with her health and being the perfectionist that she was, worried about this too. Mum and I shared our thoughts on this and felt the doctor was missing something.

Doctor Jenkins our local GP began looking up the medical books and some weeks later suggested that Julie have blood tests as he suspected Lupus. He was right but it had been two years in the diagnosis. Julie was 19 at this time and was put on steroids; she had one really bad spell in hospital, and it tore at my heart strings to see her in the state she was lying in that hospital bed on the first really serious relapse. She miraculously became fit and well and the specialists said she could live and gave her a 50 / 50 chance of survival. The second major relapse she had she never recovered from and died in hospital at the age of 20; it all happened so suddenly and we as a family were devastated. Looking back all the classic signs, butterfly rash included, were present

We knew little of the disease and only began to find out more after her death. I am 46 now and was 22 at the time, if only we could have had the support offered in the lupus unit at St. Thomas's Hospital London, then I firmly believe Julie would have experienced a much longer life. Even today there seems to be a lack of awareness in doctors of Lupus. I will raise awareness at any opportunity as this may help others to achieve prolonged life through identifying the disease early.

Kevin Green (www.kevingreensecretmillionaire.com)

November 2009