Until her own diagnosis about five years ago, Rosemary Bell didn't know what lupus was.
Now, it's a disease she'll spend the rest of her life navigating. And Bell is organizing an event in Auburn to raise funds to find a cure for lupus — and, more importantly to her, awareness of it.
"I want more people to know about it. I want more people to understand what it is and what it does to people every day of their lives," Bell said. "It's like any other disease: Everybody needs to chip in to be a part of it to find cures."
There are four different types of lupus. Bell lives with systemic lupus erythematosus, the most common type.
An autoimmune disease that affects everyone differently, individuals must present a combination of the 11 symptoms for a lupus diagnosis. The criteria include extreme fatigue, painful and swollen joints, rashes, and headaches and fevers. While symptoms can sometimes be dormant, Bell said, they can flare up at any time.
For her, flares can mean fatigue, waking up with rashes, bruises or blood blisters on her face, and severe inflammation in her body. Bell said it's like she's allergic to herself, adding that her immune system not only attacks itself, but is also weaker and makes her more susceptible to other illnesses.