Kelly Jeffries

Hi, I am Kelly Jefferies, I’m 39 years old & I live in Leeds, West Yorkshire with my husband, Ian, who is also my full-time carer, and our 14 year old son.

I’m very lucky to have a fantastic support network as my parents, daughter, son-in-law & 7 month old grandson live just around the corner. My GP, who has been a massive support, is very nearby too.

I have three auto-immune disorders; Behcet’s Syndrome, Systemic Lupus (SLE) and Antiphospholipid Syndrome (APS).

I have been poorly since I was a small girl, but, despite numerous tests, scans & specialists over the years, my parents were always told they couldn’t find anything wrong with me so, naturally, they believed the medical professionals & thought I was a “drama queen”!

In December 2000, at 33 weeks into my second pregnancy, I had a massive placental abruption resulting in my second daughter being stillborn & almost losing my own life. It was at this time that the APS was diagnosed.

I went on to have my son in April 2002 and then in the summer of 2004, I started with stroke type symptoms and, after some tests & brain scans, I was diagnosed with Cerebral Lupus & started on infusions of cyclophosphomide, a form of chemotherapy.

Rather than being shocked, like my family were, I was just relieved to finally know I had something wrong with me & it wasn’t “all in my head”!

In early 2011, my then Rheumatologist suddenly mentioned Vasculitis to one of his students in front of me at my appointment so I went away & researched it as he’d never mentioned Vasculitis before, especially to me and I didn’t know what it was. This is when I found Vasculits UK and I contacted John & Susan Mills, I told them how badly managed my symptoms were & it took them about a year of gently prodding me to go for a second opinion. I travelled to Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge with Ian, to see Dr David Jayne who diagnosed me with Behcet’s Syndrome & SLE and he referred me on to a fantastic Rheumatologist in Leeds, Prof Morgan who specialises in Behcet’s Syndrome and Large Vessel Vasculitis.

I have been a staunch supporter of VUK ever since and I’m extremely grateful to have been given a correct diagnosis.

Illustration from 31 Facts booklet

I started making graphics to raise awareness of, not only Vasculitis & the different Vasculitic diseases, but also the brilliant work VUK do. I have no formal training in graphic design but found it helped to pass my time & keep my brain ticking over when I am well enough. In 2015, I decided to do a “Fact A Day Throughout Vasculitis Awareness Month” series of graphics to put some facts out about Vasculitis, for use on social media that every day people would understand.

Cover of 31 Facts booklet

When John & Susan told me they were making “A Fact a Day About Vasculitis” into a booklet for Vasculitis Awareness Month 2016, because Dr Reem Aljayyousi, Consultant Nephrologist at Leicester Royal Infirmary used the graphics for a support group presentation & suggested it, I was speechless & deeply honoured. I was also happy they were to be sold for a small amount with all proceeds going to VUK as this meant that I wasn’t just helping to raise awareness but funds too!

Prior to falling ill, I worked in administration & secretarial roles so I will also be helping with the VUK shop orders assisting the on-line shop co-ordinator when needed so we can get the VUK awareness products out in the public eye as well as colourful graphics I make which are mainly for social media.