Lupus is a shape-shifting disease: because the autoimmune condition can attack virtually any organ, tissue, or body part, the list of possible symptoms is long, and seemingly unrelated.
Joint pain. Chest pain. Severe skin rashes. Headaches. Short-term memory problems. And those are just a sampling.
The list of health problems lupus can cause is similarly long. Blood clots in the lungs. Increased susceptibility to bleeding. Anemia. Kidney disease.
Not that long ago, medical science didn’t have much to offer the estimated one in 1,000 Canadians who are living with lupus, approximately 90 per cent of whom are women.
But thankfully, that situation had started to change by the time I wrote about lupus for Good Times magazine back in 2011, and I have no doubt that treatments have advanced even further since then.
So I’m posting this piece to increase awareness about this disease, since I believe most people know little more about it than the name. Think of it as an introduction to what it’s like to live with lupus. If you want to learn more, check out the list of resources below.
A belated thank-you to the interviewees who generously shared their stories, and expertise:
- Theresa Brockhuizen
- Dr. Paul R. Fortin, who is now a senior scientist of rheumatology and immunology with Arthritis Research Canada, a clinical researcher in the infection and immune disease axis of CHU de Québec-Université Laval, and a professor in the department of medicine at Université Laval, in Quebec City.
- Dr. Marvin Fritzler, PhD, a professor of autoimmune and inflammatory diseases at the McCaig Institute for Bone and Joint Health, an institute of the University of Calgary’s Cumming School of Medicine.
- Julia Kane, president of Lupus Ontario.
- Dr. Janet Pope, division head of rheumatology at St. Joseph’s Healthcare London, and a professor of medicine at Western University’s Schulich School of Medicine in London, Ont.