A special edition of Notes from the Fox Den

by Josie Fox

Notes from the Fox Den

Hello everyone! Can you believe that we are in May already? Seriously, where has the time gone?

I wanted to write a special edition of Notes from the Fox Den today, on May 10, in honor of the 16th annual observance of World Lupus Day.

Lupus is an autoimmune disease that affects people of all nationalities, races, cultures, gender and age. This disease can affect any part of the body at any time, with unpredictable and sometimes life altering results. Lupus knows no boundaries, but through awareness and education we can help control its impact.

More than five million people worldwide have been diagnosed with Lupus. Of that number, at least 1.5 million are Americans, with more than 16,000 new cases being reported each year. Even more staggering, 90 percent of lupus patients are women.

With Lupus, the immune system, which is designed to protect against infection, becomes unbalanced, and the antibodies that normally protect the body begin attacking it instead. Joints, muscles, tissues and organs are all targeted by these antibodies and seen as invaders to the system.

Not much is currently known about Lupus as it affects each person differently. What is known is that it is not transferable. A person with Lupus cannot infect anyone, but the disease is known to be genetic as it can run in families. There is currently no cure, but symptoms and flares can be managed.

Common signs of Lupus are depression, memory loss, trouble thinking, sensitivity to the sun, unusual hair loss, unexplained fevers, painful and swollen joints and extreme fatigue. When symptoms are unusually strong, this is referred to as a Lupus flare, and a flare can last from just under an hour to days, weeks or even months. Flares can be triggered by something as uncontrollable as a change in the weather. If left untreated, Lupus can be fatal, and can lead to organ damage and failure.

I am a Lupus warrior. I was diagnosed over three years ago, and I have had my ups and downs with the disease. At my worst point, so far, I had to undergo mild chemotherapy treatments to help put the disease back in check and lower my white blood cell count. Through this ordeal I have lost hair, dealt with weight gain, changes in my skin and fatigue so bad I fell asleep while trying to flat iron my hair. I have had to do things at pain levels that most people couldn’t function at just so I can have a somewhat normal life. One of the hardest parts of Lupus is the phrase “but you don’t look sick”. Although I am glad that my body does not show all of the damage occurring on the outside, it is challenging explaining to someone that you are in a daily battle with your own body. Imagine waking up one morning to find out you are sick, and that you will never get better, and simple everyday tasks can be incapacitating.

What I have not done is give up or give in. I am determined that I will stay informed, and beat this disease.

May is national Lupus Awareness month, and the staff of the Cherokeean Herald will wear purple on Friday, May 17 to help bring awareness to the disease. If you feel so inclined, I would love to see my readers wearing purple that day as well. Send your pictures to josie@thecherokeean.com and I will post them on our Facebook page.

Thank you for reading Notes from the Fox Den and thank you for your support.