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Providing Answers, Support and Hope in Georgia

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Thirty-One Faces of Hope: Pat McKinnon

The lupus community includes people living with lupus, friends, family, and supporters across Georgia. For Lupus Awareness Month, we would like to highlight some of our lupus heroes and champions. 

Meet Pat McKinnon, South Georgia Advocate
Educating, Elevating, Embracing and Pushing to Find A Cure

The year was 2002 on a winter Sunday night in December, I was at church and I was wearing my favorite black leather high heel boots.  As church was being dismissed, my ankle began to ache.  I limped to the car I thought maybe I twisted my ankle unknowingly.  I got home and there was no swelling.  I took some Aleve and called it a night.  Two weeks later, I was filling prescriptions at work and my wrist started to ache.  I took Aleve again and continued to work.  The ache in my wrist and ankle began to get more excruciating and unbearable pain.  I decided to go to the doctor because I just did not understand what was going on with my joints.  As soon as I told my doctor, who happened to be a friend of the family, he immediately said, without doing lab testing, it sounds like lupus.  He said, I want to refer you to a Rheumatologist.  I was able to get into the Rheumatologist the next week and he stated the same thing, but he wanted to run some laboratory diagnostic test.  The next 2 weeks were long.  I was anxious and wanted to know what was going on with my health. Finally, mid-February of 2003, the Complement levels came back very low and I was diagnosed with Lupus SLE.  My lupus was starting to affect my kidneys; therefore, my diagnosis was called Lupus Nephritis.

Fast forward to May 2012, I was in my hometown of Tifton, Georgia and I wanted to start advocating for Lupus Awareness.  I went to the local newspaper to get publicity on an event I wanted to do.  The event consisted of getting at least 50 people to meet me at the public football stadium called Brodie Field and take a group picture to show awareness of Lupus in our community.  I had shirts made through a local printing company.  The theme on the shirt was “Not Going Down Without A Fight”.  The day came to take this group picture and over 200 people showed up. What an awesome day for Tift County.  Since this event, I have helped plan and participated in many events for Tift County and South Georgia.  For example: a Lupus high school Basketball game, two  Lupus Semi-Pro Football games, Tift County’s 1st Lupus walk in 2022, Lupus speaking engagements, Georgia Advocacy Capital Day, Lupus Walk for the Foundation of Georgia, Painting downtown Tifton Purple for Lupus Awareness month, two City Proclamations for Lupus Awareness, two County Proclamations  for Lupus Awareness, and many more different types of awareness events over the past 11 years.

I am so honored and humbled by the love and support of my family and friends.  To my wise and incredible son, Kristopher better known as “Konnxct” and my amazing brothers, I say “Thank You”.   Your love, support, understanding, and patience are impossible to put into words. To my Lupie Sistas, fighting lupus is a worthy cause and I know that together we are making a difference for the lupus community in South Georgia.

My Why is….  I do this because I want to shine the light on this Cruel Mysterious and Unpredictable disease.  This disease does not LOOK a certain way, but it definitely makes a person with lupus FEEL a certain way.  For those that carry a lupus diagnosis with them every day - I urge you to explore your options, learn how to read your labs, ask your physicians questions, never ever stop advocating for yourself, never stop fighting for your health. You are the only one that knows your body - and that constant fight allows room for hope to stay with us.  To my fellow warriors keep fighting, keep telling your stories, and most of all keep the Faith, because God is still in Control.  Lupus awareness month is May but we are #Educating, #Elevating, #Embracing, and #Pushing to FIND A CURE.

Thank You to Our Generous Sponsor

Choosing to prioritize your kidney health might be uncomfortable, but the reality is that up to 30% of people who live with lupus nephritis may experience kidney failure, which can lead to dialysis or even a kidney transplant. Luckily, there are steps you can take now that may help, such as scheduling routine tests and asking your doctor about treatment options. Talk to your doctor to learn more about routine testing and treatment.

Learn more about their GET UNCOMFORTABLE campaign.