By Emma Atkinson
After a month long focus during October on raising awareness for lupus, a medical condition which Selena Gomez, Lady Gaga and Toni Braxton have all publicly disclosed their experiences with, the disease is beginning to gain more recognition.
Jessica Frost, a student at Murdoch University, who was diagnosed with lupus in 2008, said although there has been an increase in information and support for those with the disease since her diagnosis, some people still remain unaware because of its invisible status.
“There is a common quote that is attributed to anyone who is diagnosed with an illness you can’t see [like lupus] and that quote is ‘but you don’t look sick,’ ” said Jessica.
“It is hard to live in a world of pain no-one can see, but when someone strong who has a voice talks about their journey, whatever that may be, it gives you courage.”
Lupus, like rheumatoid arthritis, is a systemic auto-immune disease with women making up 90 per-cent of patients diagnosed with the illness.
Its symptoms include fatigue, rashes, UV sensitivity, swollen joints, hair loss and in some cases even seizures.
Professor Johannes Nossent, Chair of Rheumatology and Musculoskeletal Medicine at the University of Western Australia, said that although clinical research is being done on Lupus, it is still not known why the disease affects more women than men.
“Currently, the thinking is that some undisclosed combination of genes located on the XX chromosomes have a larger impact on the reactivity of the immune systems than in XY carrying males,” said the Professor.
Despite not being able to drive due to seizures or even stay up late without needing a week to recover, Jessica refuses to let the disease rule her life.
“If I’m going to live another 80 years I’m not going to feel sorry for myself the whole time, it’s not attractive,” she said.
“So every day I wake up and my heart is pumping blood and my lungs are filling with air, I’m going to laugh and outlive you all.”