May kicks off Lupus Awareness Month!

The first time I ever heard the word Systemic Lupus Erythematosus or “Lupus” I was in my third year of medical school. I encountered a young African American female in her twenties and we eventually became friends. She always felt tired and she described the feeling as having the flu all the time.  She simply had no energy to do simple tasks.

She eventually developed joint pain and stomach issues. She later told me that she was diagnosed with Lupus but at the time I had no idea what this condition was. 


I quickly researched and learned the various symptoms including:

  • photosensitivity (sensitivity to the sun)
  • a facial “butterfly rash” or scarring discoid rash
  • oral and nasal ulcers
  • joint pain
  • chest pain or shortness of breath from heart and lung inflammation
  • kidney disease
  • neurological symptoms (stroke, headaches, “brain fog”, seizures
  • blood abnormalities (low white blood cell count, anemia, low platelets)

This young woman passed away from complications of her lupus in her twenties and I was shocked. How could someone my age who looked healthy die?

She didn’t complain.  She lived with the pain.

She didn’t know enough about her disease and its devastating effects.

She didn’t understand the daily fight her body would engage in.

She didn’t feel that she had the support or resources to help her get through each day.

She didn’t think anyone would believe she was sick.

Lupus Warrior..I see you.

When people look at you and think you are fine because of your outward appearance while your body is being overtaken by chronic inflammation, I still see you. We now all see you.