KW Cares

We’re blessed to hear the stories of KW Family members who have been touched by our grant program. One such recipient is Stephanie Houseman, who was diagnosed with lupus at age 16. Below is her story, in her own words.

At 16 years old, I was diagnosed with Lupus SLE. Lupus is an autoimmune disease that is both active (during a flare) and goes into remission (when symptoms are under control). When I am in a flare, my immune system attacks my healthy organs and tissue.

Catering Life to Health Needs

I went through college very undecided about what I wanted to be when I “grow up” because I had to cater my life around my health. I knew I wanted to be a realtor, but I didn’t know if I would be able to earn enough money to support myself. I needed to keep my full-time job in insurance to keep my health insurance with my ongoing maintenance appointments for the Lupus.

I started taking real estate classes to start at it part-time. I became very ill shortly after starting the online classes but I kept at it during my week-long hospital stays to help pass the time. I eventually was diagnosed with renal (kidney) failure due to my immune system aggressively attacking my kidneys.

Facing Chemo and Dialysis

The University of Michigan is two hours away from my house, but it was my last hope. I underwent chemotherapy as a final effort to save my kidneys. I had tried several other attempts prior to the chemo because I was only 27 and the chemo had risks of causing ovarian failure. I didn’t want to risk not being able to start a family one day. I was devastated when the chemo resulted in little improvement. Not only did I risk my future, but I also felt like it was all for nothing.

I began dialysis, going into the clinic every other day for treatments. Eventually I could transition to at-home dialysis for more freedom and less strain on my body. After 6 months of dialysis and juggling getting on the transplant list at the University of Michigan, I felt well enough to start taking my real estate class again. I took the 40-hour class and my original goal was to wait until after I was transplanted to start a new career.

Starting a Career while on Transplant Lists

Our realtor at the time found out I had taken the class and introduced me to the team lead she worked for. I had lunch with her, and she encouraged me to just start. I went on to take the test, passed, and my career with KW started there.

I ended up applying and testing to get on 3 other transplant lists since the clinic at University of Michigan had objections due to my Lupus activity. Mayo Clinic had a kidney for me in June, but that one fell through.

However, November of 2022 was a success! My first year in real estate, and I also received my life-saving miracle kidney! I spent a month in Minnesota recovering and negotiating contracts WITHOUT dialysis! I have had a few minor hiccups so I had to go back 4 times in 2023 for biopsies and check-ups, but I am doing VERY well!

How You Help through KW Cares

You can probably imagine how much the travel and medical bills that I accumulated during that time cost. I could not thank Keller Williams and KW Cares enough for being so supportive during this entire journey. I have never felt so included in a workplace despite my setbacks.

I also feel empowered to tell my story proudly because I don’t worry about being let go from a job or judged. The culture here is amazing and inclusive. I truly feel like God led me on this journey to exactly where I need to be. My career is rewarding by being able to help others similar to the way I was helped during my struggles. I am so glad I never gave up on my dream of becoming a realtor.

Thank you for everything,
Stephanie Houseman

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