This month is an exciting one for us and, no, I’m not saying that just because it involves pumpkin carving, dressing-up, and FREE candy! *giggles*
For those who don’t know, October is National Lupus Awareness Month! Even though we also share this month with Cancer Awareness, I believe it’s important for all of us to stand up and use our voices to shed some light on this often over-shadowed illness called lupus!
Lupus is an auto-immune disease in which the immune system becomes overactive and begins attacking the bodies healthy tissues because it cannot identify what is a virus/foreign invader and what is a healthy tissue.
Although lupus is most commonly viewed as an illness affecting women, men and teens/children can develop lupus as well. It is said to be rare for children under 5 to be diagnosed but I have heard of many children and teens across the globe being affected by this illness! An estimated 5,000- 10,000 out of the 1.5 million Americans with lupus are under the age of 18! You can find out more about Lupus in children HERE.
I happen to have met one of the most inspiring little warriors fighting against lupus so far and I’m even more ecstatic to share her story with you. Her name is Isabella (Izzy) Grace Webb and she’s 9 years old.
Her symptoms first started when she was 6 years old in 2007: heavy fatigue, red swollen feet, and unexplained fevers. When Izzy’s mother, Laura, read her blood tests she knew it was lupus and was shocked to find the doctors in the Pediatric Rheumatology center at the Children’s Hospital thought otherwise! Their diagnosis for Izzy was that all she needed was bananas for dehydration!
Izzy and her parents were met with battle after battle because her doctors thought she was too young to have lupus. They went to neurology, then were sent to a pain team, then to psych, allergists, genetics, and even hematology! It wasn’t until Izzy had a severe flare that they confirmed her diagnosis of Lupus SLE as well as Raynaud’s disease. She now takes about 7 different medications and 3 supplements to manage her lupus.
Despite the whirlwind lupus has caused in the Webb family; Isabel continues to stand strong! She attends a private academy called The Learning Castle which are very accommodating to her needs; they even read the “Loopy Lupus” book each year so that her teachers and classmates are familiar with lupus! Izzy tells me the hardest part of having lupus for her is when she’s sore and can’t walk but that her favorite saying is “Hakuna Matata” because it means no worries and that better days will come!
Izzy is my inspirational lupus warrior this month; and it’s perfect timing since October is the National Month for Lupus Awareness!
About 2 weeks ago in LA, California The Lupus Foundation of America had one of their annual “Walk for Lupus Now” events. These walks occur all across the country! People from all over raise money that aid the LFA to support research for lupus. There are many ways to pitch in and help; some people ask co-workers and family, others have bake sales.
Izzy decided that she wanted to make team t-shirts, after brainstorming with her mom she decided on using a butterfly along with the inspirational words: “Believe, Faith, and Imagine”. Her thoughts were, “Imagine a world without lupus!”
After posting photos of her awesome t-shirt project on her mom’s facebook; she noticed several inquires from other patients who wanted to purchase one. This gave birth to her very own ETSY shop called ‘Shop Imagine‘ in which the proceeds go straight to The Lupus Foundation of America for lupus research! Izzy’s passion for finding a cure for lupus led her to an amazing fundraising total of $2,000!
I asked Isabella what having lupus has taught her… she says, “Even though lupus has taught me that I’m different; it doesn’t stop me from doing what I set out to do.” When asked if she’d like to add anything. She chuckles and says, “I want every lupus patient to know that they should stay strong, and work together, because as a team we can all find a cure!”
Now how can you possibly NOT see Little Miss Izzy as anything but remarkable, inspirational, and your personal lupus-fighting heroine this month!
If she can be a brave warrior then so can the rest of us! With so many wonderful discoveries happening this year for lupus; there is definitely hope for a cure! Each of us can make a difference no matter how small or large it is. The keyword is teamwork…together we’ll get there!