On April 21, 1945, Martha Ann Wilbon-Green was born to the parents of Willie Lee and Wilhelmina Wilbon. She was born in New Orleans’ infamous Charity Hospital. Her father was a pastor and her mother was a missionary and a pianist. She was the only daughter of this union. Martha has 3 deceased brothers, Willie Jr., David, and Lindell. Martha is the last surviving member of her family. Why is this significant? The prevailing belief was that Martha would be the first of the Wilbon children to die.
At the tender age of 11, Martha learned she had Lupus; an autoimmune disease which happens when the immune system attacks its tissues, causing inflammation, swelling, pain, and damage. Symptoms of Lupus include fatigue, joint pain, fever, and a Lupus rash amongst many other unfavorable symptoms.
After her mother passed away, her father remarried. Out of that union, she gained a half-sister. Martha thanks God for her praying parents. Those parents taught her to trust God and to believe that there was nothing too hard for God to do. To this day, she can boast that she is still alive. 61 years after her diagnosis, she is doing well. Martha said, “By the grace and mercy of Almighty God.” Martha Ann Wilbon-Green was the first lady of Miracle Faith Church of God in Christ, until Hurricane Katrina came and filled the church with three feet of water that sat for three weeks. Besides her own children and grandchildren, she has been a foster parent to others for nine years. She also finds time to be a licensed insurance representative and a licensed notary. Interview with Martha Ann Wilbon-Green The Lyfe Magazine: What were the first signs that something was wrong? Martha: I was very tired and sluggish all the time and my joints began to ache; my legs and ankles began to swell. The Lyfe Magazine: How difficult was it growing up with Lupus? Martha: Sometimes, it was very difficult. I didn’t have the energy to play with my friends or take part in sports at school. So many times, I felt left out. There were times my fingers were so swollen, I couldn’t hold anything in my hand to write. The Lyfe Magazine: We know that Lupus can be considered hereditary to some degree. Did anyone else in your family have Lupus? Martha: My mother had Lupus and passed away at the age of 46. Her funeral was on my 19th birthday. The Lyfe Magazine: Despite your health challenges, were you able to finish school? Martha: Yes. I became deathly ill during my senior year. The doctor told my parents that I had only a few days to live. They released me from the hospital to spend my last days at home. Unfortunately, I was not able to graduate with my senior class of 1961; but, by the grace of God, I was able to return to school January 1962 and still graduate at age 17. I also completed a year and a half of college. The Lyfe Magazine: This interview is part of our Mother’s Day issue. Were you able to have children? Martha: I had three children and one miscarriage. But, according to the doctors, I wasn’t supposed to be able to have any children, at all. When I did deliver my babies, they kept them in the hospital for observation to see if they had any signs of Lupus. I thank God, all was well. But, my son who is 45 years old now suffers with rheumatoid arthritis. And yes, we share a lot about our pains and medications. The Lyfe Magazine: How did you cope? Martha: It wasn’t easy. I took it one day at a time. I learned fast how to tolerate pain that goes along with having Lupus. The Lyfe Magazine: After receiving a prognosis of only a few days to live, you defied the odds. What do you attribute your long life to? Martha: First, I give all credit to the Lord, my God. Then, to my parents, who took great care of me by taking me to the doctors and making sure I had everything I needed. It wasn’t by anything I did. I knew a lot of people who had Lupus and have gone on. I can’t say anything except that the Lord said it was not my time. He is the one that let me live. I am now 72 years young and still going strong. The Lyfe Magazine: What would you tell someone who is suffering with Lupus? Martha: I would tell them to please see your doctor. Don’t miss your appointments, take the prescribed medicines, follow the doctor’s instructions, rest and pray. The Lyfe Magazine: The Lyfe Magazine would like to thank you for giving us this exclusive. Besides this interview, have you thought about sharing your story with the world? Martha: Yes. Sweet Nectar Publishing has just released my e-book. It’s now available on Amazon.com. It details my entire journey with Lupus. The title of the book is, “He Showed Up and Showed Out: A Lupus Survivor Story”. This book tells the most intimate details of my personal sufferings and triumphs as a Lupus survivor. The Lyfe Magazine: What do you consider your most significant accomplishment? Martha: My most significant accomplishment is being a mother and raising my three biological and two stepchildren. The doctor said I would never be able to hold a job. He said I’d be a vegetable for the rest of my life. I worked as a school secretary and retired after 31 years of service. The Lyfe Magazine: If you had one statement to make to others who are suffering with Lupus, what would you say to them? Martha: I would say, hold on to God. Trust Him to deliver you. He knows what you are going through and He is the only one who can see you through. Yes, I still have pain, but I know He will give me the strength to endure. He will do the same for you, if you only believe. If you are afflicted with a disease, don’t give up hope. The Lyfe Magazine: Martha continues to live 61 years after learning of her diagnosis. There are many who have similar stories so never give up hope. If you need more information or resources on Lupus, please visit the ‘Lupus Foundation of America’ website at: http://resources.lupus.org/. Social Media: Facebook: Unlimited Healing-There Is Nothing Too Hard For God