Growing up in the southern region of the United States, as children we often overheard of someone’s daughter, niece or female cousin having lupus but no one really knew what “it” was. After a family member (by marriage) developed the disease and ultimately passed away from complications, as an inquisitive child, I was determined to find out what lupus was.
Lupus is an autoimmune disease where the body’s immune system becomes hyperactive and attacks normal, healthy tissue. This results in symptoms such as inflammation, swelling, and damage to joints, skin, kidneys, blood, the heart, and lungs. In layman’s terms, the body begins to attack itself. There are many different forms of lupus, but Systemic Lupus Erythematosus or SLE accounts for more than 70 percent of the cases. Although lupus can affect anybody, 90% of lupus patients are women, who develop the condition during their reproductive years. In approximately half of these cases, a major organ, such as the heart, lungs, kidneys or brain, will be affected. Cutaneous lupus (affecting only the skin) accounts for approximately 10 percent of all lupus cases. Drug-induced lupus accounts for about 10 percent of all lupus cases and is caused by high doses of certain medications. The symptoms of drug-induced lupus are similar to systemic lupus; however, symptoms usually subside when the medications are discontinued. The most prevalent symptom comes from the skin. Some patients with lupus have a red rash over their cheeks and the bridge of their nose. Because the location of this rash is the same as the common markings of a wolf, the name “lupus” (wolf in Latin) was given to this disease many years ago. In the United States, African Americans, Latinos and Asians are more commonly affected than Caucasians. There is a higher incidence of Lupus in certain regions of the world, such as the Philippines and China.
Recently I found out that one of my friends that I’ve known for over 20 years has developed the disease. She has Systemic Lupus and since there is no cure, her main concern is her husband and children. She says because of the pain, she has her good days and bad days but she keeps going. She relies on her faith and purpose in God for strength to get through the rough days.. Raising awareness of her condition is one of her main passions and when she is physically able, she participates in community activities that inform, educate and equip society on the effects of lupus.
I dedicate this article to my friend and sister, Mrs. Shavena Mack-Lawrence and all those who are fighting the battle and winning against this debilitating disease. For more information on lupus seek your personal physician, local health department or the links below. Remember to stay prayerful, powerful and productive.