So few have heard of it, yet worldwide it's seen as more common than leukemia, multiple sclerosis & muscular dystrophy combined!
Over 1:1000 Canadian men, women and children are living with lupus. The ratio of women to men (who are affected) is 9:1. and the average age of diagnosis is between 15 and 45.
Lupus is an autoimmune disease, a type of self-allergy, whereby the patient's immune system creates antibodies which instead of protecting the body from bacteria & viruses attack the person's own body tissues. This causes symptoms of extreme fatigue, joint pain, muscle aches, anemia, general malaise, and can result in the destruction of vital organs. It is a disease with many manifestations, and each person's profile or list of symptoms is different. It is often referred to as “The Disease of a 1000 Faces.”
Currently there is no single test that can definitely say whether a person has lupus or not. Only by comprehensive examination and consideration of symptoms and their history can a diagnosis be achieved.
New research brings unexpected findings each year. The progress made in treatment and diagnosis during the last decade has been greater than that made over the past 100 years. It is therefore a sensible idea to maintain control of a disease that tomorrow may be curable.
Controlling the disease is one thing that makes a huge difference in living with lupus. We can deal better with the challenge of living with this condition by learning all we can about the condition and by being aware of how our own body reacts. Sometimes, flares follow a clear pattern, with the same combination of symptoms every time. An informed patient can watch for warning signs and alert the doctor early on. While false alarms happen, catching a flare in its early stages can make treatment easier and more effective. With this information as a basis, a good working relationship with the doctor is crucial to the success of treatment. The strong support of family and friends can be equally important. Membership in lupus organizations can also be helpful and informative.
Lupus Ontario has 22 volunteer support centres around the province, provides education and public awareness and funds research. In addition, Lupus Ontario currently funds one Fellowship in Lupus at the Toronto Western Lupus Clinic. This type of partnership magnifies the value of every dollar donated to research in lupus. Whether it is through Walk for Lupus Ontario, a Golf Tournament, or the hugely successful Italian Dinner and Dance held every March, proceeds of Lupus Ontario’s fundraising activities have not only benefited research and education but more so, the lupus patients themselves with increased public awareness and support.