Gabby Davis was diagnosed with Lupus two years after marrying the love of her life. But instead of sulking she is seeking to provide a source for African American women with the disease. The Diva Diaries Blogazine caught up with Gabby to discuss her plans for her new venture LupusSistas.
Q: What is Lupus?
A: Lupus is an auto-immune disease that affects every organ in the body. The crazy thing about lupus is that the immune system is built to protect the body from bad bacteria and germs, but lupus causes the immune system to turn on itself and misfire trying to protect bacteria and germs that aren’t there. It’s such a complex disease, that’s why it’s been nicknamed “The Great Masquerader”, because there are so many symptoms that come with it and many times diagnosis takes several months and years. I was blessed to have been diagnosed right away because I had an excellent doctor at the time. There are three types of lupus, Systemic Lupus Erythematosus, the one that affects every organ; Discoid Lupus, which affects the skin, and drug-induced lupus, which is caused by a prescription drug and usually dissipates after the patient stops using the drug. I have SLE and my kidneys have been affected.
Q: When were you diagnosed with Lupus?
A: I was diagnosed at the age of 27 in July 2009, my second year of marriage.
Q: What was your initial reaction to the diagnosis?
A: I was pretty cavalier about the diagnosis at first. I thought I could pop some pain relievers and keep it moving. The steroids made me gain weight and my face was swollen. I refused to take pictures at the point in my life because I didn’t even recognize who I was looking at in the mirror. It took several debilitating days of not being able to get off the couch for me to realize that this was a serious problem and that I had really had to change the way I lived my life.
After I realized that lupus wasn’t something to play with I went through a grieving process, which I’m not sure ever ends, on how my life changed. As a married woman, there are a lot of things I have to consider, like adoption, rather than carrying a child since my kidneys are involved. Lupus is life changing.
Q: Can lupus be prevented?
A: No. There is now way to prevent lupus. But leading a healthy lifestyle and being a non-smoker certainly helps.
Q: What made you decide to become an advocate for Lupus?
A: The statistics of how African American women and other minority women were diagnosed with lupus two to three times more than Caucasian women, I took notice and realized that there are so many women going through the same thing. When I searched the internet looking for a warehouse of information on how lupus affected black women I’d find a random article here and there, but there was no main hub of resources. I decided that I’d do my part to help black women be educated about the disease so they could live their best life, despite lupus.
Q: What is Lupus Sistas?
A: Lupus Sistas is a website dedicated to connecting and educating black women about lupus. It not only is an informational resource, but it features a blog that puts a face on what it’s like to live with lupus day by day. It’s my hope that lupussistas.com becomes the premier website for black women to visit to find out about lupus and how it affects us.
Q: Has creating Lupus Sistas helped you cope with the disease better?
A: It’s allowed me to channel my concerns and find answers, if there are any. I’m curious by nature, so being able to research and study things and shed lights on the disparities in lupus encourages me because I know another sista will benefit from this work.
Q: What do you hope to accomplish through lupussistas.com?
A: I hope that the website serves as a connection between black women, lupus advocates and patients to create a great support network where we can share, connect and educate each other in hopes that we will begin to take better care of ourselves and our health. And when I say health, I mean holistically, not just the body. I hope that women gain so many spiritual, mental and emotional insight from the website as well.
Q: Is there anything you want to leave with our readers?
A: During my journey with lupus I’ve learned that lupus is like six degrees of separation, the more I talked to women I learned that just about everyone knows someone who suffers from this disease. I’d encourage every woman to request to do a full blood workup during their annual physicals to make doubly sure that they’re not at risk. Lupus is a tricky disease and other than discoid lupus that affects the skin, really is an invisible illness. If you know a woman suffering from lupus reach out to her, tell her that you support her and you’re in your corner. Support, along with education and health care, is key in helping lupus patients thrive.
Q: How can people get involved and share their stories on lupusistas.com?
A: They can email firstname.lastname@example.org to share their journey. They can also reach out on facebook.com/lupussistas.
Connect with LupusSistas at lupussistas.com on at facebook.com/lupussistas and/or on instagram