And just like that, 11 months have passed. It’s May again!
My birthday isn’t in May, but a big part of who I am I give recognition to in May. And not just for one day — it’s for the whole 31 days of May! You might be wondering “What is this woman talking about?!”
Folks, May is World Lupus Awareness month. For us lupus warriors, we like to make full use of this month to spread awareness to family and friends who don’t understand what Lupus is all about, and to bring awareness to the symptoms that we constantly deal with.
What is Lupus? It is the short name for the chronic disease that is Systemic Lupus Erythemathosus. It is an autoimmune disease where one’s antibodies attack the body, damaging almost any organ system. Symptoms vary with each patient, and they can be mild or severe.
Common flare up symptoms include “painful and swollen joints, fever, chest pain, hair loss, mouth ulcers, swollen lymph nodes, feeling tired, and a red rash which is most common on the face” (Wikipedia).
Lupus has no cure for now, but fundraising events in the USA and other countries are being organized constantly to raise funds in finding a cure.
Every year for the past few years, I would write a few lupus related blog posts in May to help increase lupus awareness. But they’ve always been about my personal experiences with my lupus. Write what you know, right?
This year, I am changing the posting scene in my blog and will be writing about other lupus patients as well. Let me give you a little back story first of how this change came about.
For the 2017 Philippine Lupus Awareness week, Robelle of the LuIsA Project (Lupus Inspired Advocacy Project) and I organized an event entitled “I have Lupus, I am beautiful.” On that morning, in one big conference room in the University of Sto. Thomas Hospital, we successfully gathered 91 amazingly empowered Lupus warriors as participants. We were also joined by incredibly talented makeup artists, hair stylists photographers; self-less rheumatology doctors; and loving family members and friends.
We started our morning by taking pictures of the patients which served as their “before-the-event-started” photo. We had 2 Lupus warriors share their remarkable stories, the honorable Congresswoman Emmeline Aglipay-Villar, and the other one was me (lol). We aimed to start with the beautifying and empowering from within, then we moved on to beautifying the outside.
The second portion started with a talk by one of my bestfriends, the makeup master, Ron Pena. She gave practical and easy to do makeup tips that was followed by one-on-one makeup sessions with professional makeup artist friends.
The event ended with “after-the-event” photo sessions with our photographers.
The idea behind our event was to make the Lupus warriors feel beautiful, despite having malar rashes and moon shaped faces, a few of Lupus’ effects.
While the make-up sessions were happening, I sat with the lupus ladies who were waiting for their turn. I chatted with them, and they shared their lupus journeys with me. All their stories were different, but all showed their strength and willingness to push forward and fight their diseases. And then I thought, there is more than one way to skin a cat, and there is more than one story to tell, so why not share those incredible stories?
For this year’s awareness month, allow me to take you on ten lupus journeys. I will introduce you to ten individuals who fight each and everyday, because they want to live a life without limitations and boundaries, despite their disease.
On May 8, let me introduce you to my 1st muse, my lupus sister, the superwoman Congresswoman Emmeline Aglipay-Villar.