The mundane has turned essential. Under normal circumstances, Tuten admittedly does not enjoy a trip to the supermarket. These times are different though. He knows that shopping plays a role in keeping Wallace healthy, and his mindset has flipped.
“Before this, I hated going to the grocery store,” said Tuten via phone, between yard work and grilling chicken wings. “Hated it. Now it has suddenly become one of the most enjoyable things. I do it for Beccah. Making sure she’s healthy and taking care of her.”
Tuten and Wallace met through a mutual friend; Wallace lived in Aiken, South Carolina, not far from Tuten’s hometown of Augusta, Georgia, and they clicked immediately.
Shortly after they started dating, Tuten competed in the 2015 U.S. Amateur and then turned pro. Wallace had completed cosmetology school and was moving to Savannah to pursue a career as an aesthetician. Per the nature of his career, Tuten had the ability to live anywhere, and they decided to move together.
“We are literally the most flexible couple in the world,” Tuten said. (They have since moved to Naples, Florida.)
As a freshman at Texas State, Wallace experienced her first lupus ‘attack.’ One day, without warning, she collapsed and was unable to go to class.
She knew immediately that something was wrong, as she had always lived a healthy lifestyle – running, cheerleading, teaching and competing in competitive dance, even attending a ballroom dancing competition in Las Vegas.
The symptoms proved so severe that Wallace eventually moved back home to Aiken, in hopes of identifying the problem. (Silver lining: the move led to meeting Tuten.)
With sometimes-vague symptoms, various types and no cure, lupus is one of the most difficult diseases to diagnose. Eight years passed from Wallace’s first ‘attack’ until official diagnosis. In between, she dealt with constant uncertainty and countless flare-ups including acne breakouts caused by stress and trauma that necessitated lengthy work hiatuses for recovery.
Tuten estimates picking up Wallace from work “probably 50 times” because she was too weak to make the five-minute drive home.
In one instance, Wallace was given steroids – “a false high for feeling well” – and her weight increased from 120 to 160 pounds in less than three months.