Friday, May 6, 2011

May is Lupus Awareness Month

About 10 years ago I participated in a Walk for Lupus when my mother was newly diagnosed.  I was already familiar with the disease as her brother died from complications related to Lupus a few years earlier.  It just so happened that the Walk was in October and when attempting to raising money many people were unfamiliar with Lupus and much more familiar with Breast Cancer Awareness especially in October.  Our walk is now in May and our voice is stronger than ever providing awareness to the growing disease.  Here are just a few facts about Lupus straight from the Lupus Foundation Of America:
Lupus is a chronic, autoimmune disease that can damage any part of the body (skin, joints, and/or organs inside the body). Chronic means that the signs and symptoms tend to last longer than six weeks and often for many years. In lupus, something goes wrong with your immune system, which is the part of the body that fights off viruses, bacteria, and germs ("foreign invaders," like the flu). Normally our immune system produces proteins called antibodies that protect the body from these invaders. Autoimmune means your immune system cannot tell the difference between these foreign invaders and your body’s healthy tissues ("auto" means "self") and creates autoantibodies that attack and destroy healthy tissue. These autoantibodies cause inflammation, pain, and damage in various parts of the body.
  • Lupus is also a disease of flares (the symptoms worsen and you feel ill) and remissions (the symptoms improve and you feel better). Lupus can range from mild to life-threatening and should always be treated by a doctor. With good medical care, most people with lupus can lead a full life.
  • Lupus is not contagious, not even through sexual contact. You cannot "catch" lupus from someone or "give" lupus to someone.
  • Lupus is not like or related to cancer. Cancer is a condition of malignant, abnormal tissues that grow rapidly and spread into surrounding tissues. Lupus is an autoimmune disease, as described above.
  • Lupus is not like or related to HIV (Human Immune Deficiency Virus) or AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome). In HIV or AIDS the immune system is underactive; in lupus, the immune system is overactive.
  • Our research estimates that at least 1.5 million Americans have lupus. The actual number may be higher; however, there have been no large-scale studies to show the actual number of people in the U.S. living with lupus.
  • It is believed that 5 million people throughout the world have a form of lupus.
  • Lupus strikes mostly women of childbearing age (15-44). However, men, children, and teenagers develop lupus, too.
  • Women of color are 2-3 times more likely to develop lupus.
  • People of all races and ethnic groups can develop lupus.
  • More than 16,000 new cases of lupus are reported annually across the country.
As with Breast Cancer I have made a candle collection for Lupus to assist in awareness, education and research. 50% of every candle and bracelet sold will be donated to the Lupus Foundation of America.  I will be posting bi-annual updates of what was donated thus far.  You can find the Lupus Awareness Candle w/bracelet exclusively on Etsy and Artfire.
These candles are also available in bulk for fundraising events.

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