May is Lupus Awareness Month. This is a disease that has heavily affected my life over the past few months, and I wanted to shed some light on the effects of Lupus and the damage it can inflict. A lot of people have no idea what Lupus is, what the symptoms are and how serious it can be. You look at me and probably would never guess I'm dealing with an auto-immune disease that is effecting my organs.

I was honored to be able to have a conversation with Aniysha, Sakeema and Kareema Trice the other day; three sisters who were all diagnosed with Lupus in their 20s. Because of their experiences, hardships and trials they decided to start an organization based in Philadelphia called ASK Lupus. According to their website, they are a non-profit organization that is dedicated to lupus advocacy, supporting those that have been diagnosed or are in the process of a diagnosis with lupus within the community.

Each one of their stories are very unique. They have been through so much at such a young age, and it's amazing to see their selfless acts through the organization that is aimed at helping others. Anyisha Trice has been diagnosed with Lupus nephritis back in 2010 and it greatly affects her kidneys. "I have been on dialyses for about 5 years now. My main goal is to get a kidney transplant," she stated.

Lupus is an auto-immune disease that effects all of your vital organs. "It can effect your skin, your lungs, your kidney, your heart...any major organ," stated Kareema.

The sisters also detailed some of the symptoms they have experienced over the course of their life including joint pain, rashes on the skin, fatigue and more. Their mother, Veronica Phillips, was recently diagnosed with Lupus and said that at first doctors told her it was simply rheumatoid arthritis.

"About 5 years ago, I started actively running again," she stated. "When I would go out in the sun and it started to affect my skin. I would get these rashes all over, I would be itchy. It felt like something was crawling on you all day long." "....I now avoid being out in the heat because my skin begins to blister and once the blisters dry out, they become dark spots that take years to go away."

It's important to know that Lupus can be dormant. People can be living with Lupus for years before they show any kind of symptoms. "I would suggest people to get the ANA (antinuclear antibody) blood work done," Kareema stated.

Visiting your doctor, getting routine blood work done, and checking your family history to see if any of your family members struggled with Lupus are all things women, especially women of color, should be doing as precautionary measures.

"I would suggest young people, especially minorities, just to take care of themselves," Sakeema stated. "Exercise, eat better. Those things won't necessarily prevent you from having lupus or being diagnosed with Lupus but we just need to take care of ourselves in general. All of those things can contribute to us having a more healthy lifestyle."

To learn more about Lupus and how you can get involved with ASK Lupus visit their website. They offer support groups, provide information and raise funds for Lupus to clinical research nationally. To get involved click here!

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