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. In lupus, something goes wrong with your immune system, which is the part of the body that fights off viruses, bacteria, and germs ("foreign invaders," like the flu). Normally our immune system produces proteins called antibodies that protect the body from these invaders. Autoimmune means your immune system cannot tell the difference between these foreign invaders and your body’s healthy tissues ("auto" means "self") and creates autoantibodies that attack and destroy healthy tissue. These autoantibodies cause inflammation, pain, and damage in various parts of the body.
(Excerpt From Lupus Foundation of America http://www.lupus.org/newsite/index.html)
This is my niece Samantha, aka Sam, in 2008 - three months before being diagnosed with Lupus (the day before her seventh birthday).
This is my niece Sam, during her steroid treatment for Lupus.
Thankfully, she responded well to the steroid treatment and is off them, but it was a long year. She only takes Cellcept now (people who've had an organ transplant take it as well) and it seems the lupus is in remission.
She'll be doing the Lupus Walk in Milwaukee on June 12. http://www.firstgiving.com/samanthapatton