On September 25, the fourth annual Los Angeles Walk for Lupus will take place, allowing those afflicted with the disease to walk with their friends and family in support of a cure.
This cure is a long time coming, as it’s been more than 50 years since a drug has been approved for the treatment of this often-misunderstood disease.
Lupus is an acute and lifelong autoimmune disease in which an imbalanced immune system causes inflammation and tissue damage to nearly every organ system in the body.
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In October 2000, Saugus resident Lora Rodriguez was diagnosed with the disease. Then just 23, her doctor suggested that she might have arthritis after she complained of arm pain.
Rodriguez said she initially brushed off the doctor’s prognosis. Luckily, she informed him of her frequent hand cramps caused by the amount of typing she’d done at her current job at the Auto Club.
“Had I not said that, we would’ve had to guess what was wrong with me.”
Upon learning of the hand cramps, Rodriguez’s doctor ran off the checklist of lupus symptoms, to which she responded “yes” to each.
“Sometimes thing that you don’t think have anything to do with what’s going on are actually part of lupus.” There are various forms of lupus, but the two most common are Cutaneous Lupus Erythematosus, which is limited to the skin causing rashes and lesions, and Systemic Lupus Erythematosus, which affects the kidneys, lungs, joints and heart.
Rodriguez has dealt with the latter form for the last 10 years.
In the past, she has been unable to participate in the Walk for Lupus due the debilitating impact of the disease.
During that time, enzymes in her body failed to distribute property causing the sac that surrounds the heart to become filled with fluid.
She subsequently had surgery to drain the area and took medication for a year to keep the problem at bay.
“I’ve been lucky the last few years where everything’s been pretty good and I just have little spouts of this and that, but I went through a little chunk where it was just terrible,” she said.
Now in better health, Rodriguez nevertheless feels the daily effects of lupus. She takes 13 pills every day, some simply to prevent diseases, such as malaria and cancer, from occurring.
All money raised by the Walk for Lupus will benefit research done by the Lupus Foundation of American.
“There is no one drug for lupus, which is why they’re having this,” she said.
Rodriguez’s team currently boasts 24 members and is on the way to hitting $2,500 in donations.
To join her team or to make a donation, visit here.
To support or join the Los Angeles Walk for Lupus on September 25, head to Christmas Tree Lane at Exposition Park at Figueroa and 39th, Los Angeles, CA.
Those interested in learning more about the disease should visit lupus.org.