Taking steps to find a cure for lupus
Lupus is a disease that affects around two million Americans, but it's not always easy to detect. Sarah Blazonis stopped by the sixth annual Walk Along for Lupus in Syracuse. She tells us how improved treatments are leading to healthier lives.
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SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- All of the 210 walkers who came out to Destiny USA Sunday morning were touched by lupus in some way, but no two stories were the same.
"When I was diagnosed, I was told the life expectancy was less than five years," said Honi Kurzeja with the Lupus Alliance of Upstate New York. "I went home and cried and cried. It was a terrible situation."
That was 40 years ago. Kurzeja credits medical advances with helping her live so far past those expectations, but despite strides in treatment, lupus is still considered a life-changing disease. Even diagnosis can sometimes be a challenge.
"I've been sick for about six years. I've gone to ten different specialists in three cities, and no one was able to figure out what was wrong until August," said walk participant Amanda Seef.
For Seef, a YNN employee, symptoms included extreme fatigue, but there are several types of lupus. It can affect the skin, organs, or joints, and it's most commonly seen in women from 20 to 40 years old.
"It can affect any organ in the body," said Kurzeja. "It's really the body turning against itself and it's building up antibodies and destroying its own tissue."
Participants say news of the latest developments is encouraging. Studies on an immunity sensing enzyme could lead to new treatments. For those battling the illness, being able to interact with others going through similar situations is an important benefit of the walk.
"To be able to meet people who have lupus or kind of know what you're going through is nice, because it's a really frustrating disease, and it's a really frustrating process," said Seef.
But walkers say they hope the steps they're taking today will make it easier for future patients.
For more information or to find out how to support the cause, visit lupusupstateny.org.