Shuttlesworth perseveres through often-misunderstood autoimmune disease
Lupus, an often-misunderstood autoimmune disease, is challenging to live with, difficult to diagnose, and hard to treat.
Shelly Shuttlesworth, who lives near Turtle Creek, knows that all too well.
“Your white cells don’t recognize your own body as itself,” she said. “It can be your skin, your organs. It really just doesn’t know the difference.”
With some of her “Shelley’s Heroes” teammates, Shuttlesworth joined the Lupus Research Alliance’s 20th annual Walk with Us to Cure Lupus on October 22 in Glencoe Park. The goal: to raise awareness of the autoimmune disease and urge donations to support much-needed research to help find a cure.
There are no first symptoms of Lupus, although the early signs can be fatigue, joint pain, or a butterfly rash.
And symptoms greatly differ throughout all patients, though one common one is a red butterfly-shaped rash over your cheeks and nose that often follows exposure to sunlight.
“My mom told me to go to my dermatologist, and they thought the rash on my face was the butterfly rash, which is very common with Lupus patients, so they did a skin graft, and the results came back positive,” Shuttlesworth said.
The cause of Lupus is unknown, but it, along with other autoimmune diseases, can often run in families. Doctors suspect either a response to certain hormones or environmental triggers.
There are four kinds of Lupus: Systemic Lupus Erythematosus, Cutaneous Lupus, Drug-Induced Lupus, and Neonatal Lupus.
Systemic Lupus Erythematosus is the most common form. Cutaneous Lupus is only limited to the skin. Certain prescription drugs cause Drug-Induced Lupus. Neonatal Lupus affects infants of women that have Lupus.
“It is something that you can live with, and there are ways that you can take care of your body,” Shuttlesworth said. “It makes me do things . . . so that I can do everything I want to do.”