Why Lupus Awareness Is Key to a Cure
May 20th is Put on Purple Day in support of lupus awareness. Ten years ago I had no idea this was “a thing.” Purple was just my favorite color. Purple was the color of my alma mater, Northwestern University. Purple was the color of my favorite flower, the lilac, and seeing them always brought back memories of my grandparents garden, my childhood home and spring. My husband planted a lilac bush in our backyard to surprise me since he knew they were my favorite when we bought our house. Purple was just a pretty color, not the symbol of a devastating disease and now a cause that meant life and death.
There are many colors to represent many causes. In fact, there are so many causes that now we have to double, triple and quadruple up since there are just so many colors. Some ribbons are more “popular” than others and go through trends as celebrities take up a cause. From red to pink to blue when we promote awareness, funds are raised for better medicines and maybe even a cure.
When Selena Gomez went public with her lupus diagnosis I wept for this girl yet knew our chances for a cure were just increased. As sad and awful as it is, when a disease gains a “celebrity” we gain awareness. Parkinson’s disease has Michael J. Fox, spinal cord paralysis had Christopher Reeve, numerous female celebrities have come forward with their battles with breast cancer and now lupus has Selena Gomez.
Selena has been gracious enough to share some of her private battles via her social media. It’s one thing when I’m having a rough day and I’m in the hospital and I choose the share it with my friends on Facebook or Instagram. But when Selena shares it with her 136 million followers that makes a tiny bit more of an impact. This summer when she chose to share that she had undergone a kidney transplant and encouraged her followers to go to the Lupus Research Alliance’s website to learn more, traffic to the site was greatly increased and over $500,000 was raised. Since the Lupus Research Alliance is an organization where 100 percent of the funds raised go directly to research, this is an incredible boon for the cause.
But Selena can only do so much. It’s up to all of us who care to spread awareness in our own ways. It may only reach my couple hundred of friends but it’s a start. But if even a handful of my friends wear purple and spread the word on Put on Purple Day, this year on May 20th, it can start a spark. And a spark can ignite a flame.