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Louisiana Lupus Foundation Celebrates National Lupus Awareness Month
Courtney Mitchell RN of GSK, Ciara Lindon of BREC, lupus warrior and businesswoman Lisabeth Jackson, and Staci Mitchell of Village Cofe were speakers
By Henrietta Hookfin
The Louisiana Lupus Foundation held its second annual Lupus Awareness Luncheon to celebrate local survivors during National Lupus Awareness Month.
Linda Perkins, who is the LLF board president, welcomed members and guests to the May 21st event at Drusilla's Restaurant. Nationally, more than 1.5 million people live with lupus and the month of May is designated to bring awareness worldwide. For more than 30 years, the Louisiana organization has supported lupus patients with monthly support groups and also designs awareness activities in October.
The Foundation received two proclamations from the City of Baker and East Baton Rouge Metro Council which were read by JoAnn Jackson.
LUPUS IS A CHRONIC, complex autoimmune disease that causes inflammation of various parts of the body, including the skin, joints, blood vessels, heart, and kidneys. The immune system normally protects the body from viruses, bacteria, and other foreign materials. With lupus, the immune system becomes overactive and loses its ability to tell the difference between foreign substances and its own healthy cells and tissues. This triggers the immune system to make antibodies directed against itself and organs, explained Candace J. Semien, who was diagnosed after years of severe chest pains, swelling, and crippling inflammation.
Her "What is Lupus” presentation shared symptoms of the disease and how people live with its "erratic and debilitating conditions." She also shared a post from social media on how to explain lupus to others.
"Knowing that lupus is unpredictable may help other people understand your physical and emotional ups and downs. What most people do not realize is the effort it may take you to function day-to-day when you have to cope with extreme fatigue, chronic pain, memory loss, medication side effects, and visible skin lesions. There is no cure for lupus, yet. However, there are medications and lifestyle adjustments that help most people live productive lives," said Semien.
LLF volunteer and lupus advocate Vanessa Pitts introduced luncheon speakers, starting with Staci Mitchell, owner of Village Cofe'. She shared holistic approaches for dealing with lupus, chronic pain, and mental health. She encouraged everyone to monitor how meals impact their symptoms and to consider juicing to detox the digestive system of toxins from medications.
Lisabeth Jackson, a lupus warrior and business owner, told attendees about her journey living and coping with discoid lupus which attacks the skin. She said her decades-long experiences battling lupus have allowed her to navigate life in a manner that empowers others--- including her granddaughter who was recently diagnosed.
GSK Patient Engagement Liaison Courtney Mitchell, RN congratulated the Foundation on its statewide network and outreach that supports patients and families. As partners and sponsors, LLF and GSK can continue building ongoing advocacy and events that help patients and generate more awareness and funding to research treatments for a cure, she said. She also presented GSK's Us in Lupus program which provides tools and resources like the Symptoms Tracking Kit. It shows how to identify, track, and better understand lupus symptoms. The luncheon ended with door prizes, gentle hugs, and good cheer after a delicious meal and fellowship.
The Louisiana Lupus Foundation hosts monthly support group meetings across the state and online. See a listing at www.louisianalupusfoundation.org and on Facebook @louisianalupusfdnTo join, call 225-774-7999.
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