Some of you know for the last year I have done a monthly guest blog post for “Worthy Wednesdays” featuring a non profit. Now that I have started my own blog, I will not be blogging there anymore but I wanted to post my last story here. If you are considering where to donate for #GivingTuesday in a few days, this is a very good choice. Periodically on my own blog I will still feature non-profits in the future.

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I had heard of Lupus before and knew it was an autoimmune disease that can be debilitating but I’ll admit I did not really know much more. This past year I met Wanda Fernandez-Thomas. She has Lupus but you would never know it. She is vibrant and hard-working, a mother of two, a student, a wife and an amazing photographer who runs her own business called MadCris Images Photography. She is outgoing and always has a smile on her face. I then learned she suffers from Lupus and has decided to get involved to help give back to others with Lupus. Wanda recently spoke at the annual “Living with Lupus Symposium.”

Lupus is a chronic, autoimmune disease that can damage any part of the body (skin, joints, and/or organs inside the body). Chronic means that the signs and symptoms tend to last longer than six weeks and often for many years. Some of the complications  of Lupus include thinning hair, hair blotches, blotchiness on the skin, kidney/liver problems(can lead to a need for kidney transplant), seizures, scaring of the face.  Some people who suffer from Lupus have environmental or systematic problems as well.

Wanda told me that she had an allergic reaction to meds when she was 12 years old. She was tired and sleeping all the time-even in school. She was diagnosed with Lupus. Today she controls her condition with meds and a fairly strict diet but is still tired everyday and some days can’t get out of bed. Her husband helps her stretch and with her diet. It is important that she takes pressure off her joints. She explained it is very important for her to listen to her body and pay attention. She limits junk food and fried food and keeps a log journal daily of her food. She stresses the need to be your own advocate.

Wanda approached The Lupus Foundation Tri-State Chapter to give back to women like her. She came up with the idea of a contest for a photo shoot. The 5  winners pick a location for their shoot and have a “glam squad” of hair and makeup done for their shoots. They receive digital images of their shoot afterwards.  It is important to her that women with Lupus feel beautiful and are not defined by their disease. Wanda is helping them tell their stories and feel beautiful. If you would like to apply, please follow the link here http://lupustristate.wufoo.com/forms/madcris-images-photography-session/. Here are two images from the first winner’s shoot. Her name is  Nansi Zayes.

The 22nd annual “Loop for Lupus 5K” was held on on October 27th,  at Memorial Hall. You can still help Wanda and The Lupus Foundation by going to her site and making a donation at http://www.supportlupustristate.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=donorDrive.participant&participantID=932. You can help publicize the event on Twitter with the hashtag #phillylupusloop or sign up to walk next year at http://www.lupusloop.org. .

The Lupus Foundation Tri-State chapter is also always looking for volunteers to help with things like office work, photoshop and other tasks. A list of these type of volunteer needs can even be done from your own home/laptop. So if you have some time to spare and would like to get involved, please contact them.

May is Lupus Awareness Month and there will be a “purple day” where you can show your support by wearing purple that day. Love Park in Philadelphia will also be lavender for this occasion. For more information about this and other ways to get involved and help please see the website:  http://www.lupus.org/tristate/pages/about-us.

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