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Teenage Mercyhealth patient enters national hospital gown design contest

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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — She’s only a teen, but Diana Mauries is facing life with an incurable disease. 

There may be a needle in her arm several times a month, but that will not stop her from participating in the Starlight Gown contest, a nationwide competition which turns pediatric patients’ art designs into real hospital gowns.

“This is my second time drawing during the IV therapy,” Diana said. “I’ve always liked art. My main thing is music.”

Music and lots of color went into her dress design, titled “Music Brings Happiness.”

“Music brings happiness to me and, I think, to others,” she said.

Diana was diagnosed with lupus earlier this year. She spends a lot of time at the hospital. She says entering the contest helped distract her from her treatment sessions.

“She loves to draw and she’s very artsy, so this gave her an opportunity to do something other than just sit and be bored in a hospital room,” said Child Life Specialist Jess Ehrat, at Mercyhealth Javon Bea Riverside.

Diana says many people don’t understand how much of a toll her illness takes on her, both physically and mentally.

“I wish people would not bully, not judge,” she said. “I can’t really sing how I used to and also, I can’t really plany my clarinet like how I used to. I shake a lot.”

She says she’s not letting her diagnosis get her down, as her treatments have been reduced to once every other week.

“She’s an extremely resilient…teen who has somewhat recently been diagnosed with this chronic illness, and she understands that this is a life-long condition that she does have to deal with,” Ehrat said.

“Be thankful you’re alive,” Diana said.

Although her design did not make it into the final round of the contest, she says she will continue to draw and color during her treatments.

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