Latish Reed, PhD is a member of the LFA, WI Chapter Board of Directors, as well as an educator and mother. She has graciously agreed to share her warrior story to spread lupus awareness and connect with others who fight lupus every day. Please take a moment to read her story and support LFA, WI Chapter's mission of improving the lives of all people affected by lupus through programs of research, education, support, and advocacy.
No one expects to be diagnosed with a chronic, incurable disease like lupus. Despite the fact that nearly 30,000 people in Wisconsin alone battle their lupus every day, when they begin to experience common symptoms like fatigue, joint pain, or skin rashes, they may have not even heard of lupus. Among the cruelties of this devastating disease, lupus symptoms often mimic those of other diseases, vary in frequency and intensity, and don't often appear until a person's teens or twenties, when their lives are already experiencing a lot of change.
For some people, a lupus diagnosis comes after years of symptoms, tests, and failed treatments for other issues. For Latish Reed, educator and LFA, WI Chapter board member, her lupus manifested relatively suddenly:
"After a few times at the gym, my wrists became extremely tender and stiff. I thought maybe it was because I was holding on to the treadmill too tight. After another week, I became extremely fatigued. I visited my primary doctor who said that he was not going to test me for rheumatoid arthritis because that would be a devastating diagnosis for such a young woman."
It took more symptoms, and a visit to the ER, for her to get some answers.
"l developed painful boils all over my body and started to run daily fevers. ...One night, the symptoms became overwhelming and I felt that if I didn't get to an emergency room, something critical would happen. The attending ER doctor listened to the recent series of events and my symptoms and mentioned that I may have lupus. He ordered a battery of tests and told me to follow up with my primary doctor. Sure enough, I was diagnosed with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus. At 27, I was sure my life was over."
Fortunately for Latish, she had a sympathetic ally in her boss, who had a close friend with lupus.
"He supported me as I adjusted to the new medications. Once I was stabilized, he even offered me a promotion to assistant principal. He believed that I could get better so I believed too. This appointment led to an extensive career as an educator.
I went on to receive my Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis. I have been an assistant professor of school leadership at two universities and served as a school district equity leader. Overall, my health is stable today and I live a relatively active life as a mom and professional."
Today, Latish serves on the LFA, WI Chapter board of directors, where her goal is to "support the board in developing more strategies and programs to broaden our equity lens." She currently sits on the committee of our Patient Assistance Fund, which allows LFA, WI Chapter to help lupus warriors improve their quality of life by providing funds for medical equipment, therapies, and other resources they may not otherwise have access to. She is also a great ambassador, sharing her story and showing by example that you can be a lupus warrior and a successful student, professional, and mother.
Latish faces her disease head on, and as her story shows, she didn't do it alone. YOU can make a difference in life of someone with a gift to the Lupus Foundation of America, Wisconsin Chapter. Your support allows LFA, WI Chapter to reach more people with support, resources, and education through every aspect of their lupus journey. From establishing relationships with medical providers and clinics, which keeps lupus on the radar of providers, to educational programming for medical students and the public, to support groups and one-on-one conseling, LFA, WI Chapter couldn't reach as many people without YOUR help.
When you give to LFA, WI Chapter, ninety percent of your donation stays in Wisconsin to help the lupus warriors in your communities. The remaining ten percent supports research on the national level, increasing our understanding of lupus and laying the groundwork for more and better therapies and treatments. Your donation ensures that the next time a healthy, 27 year old teacher starts experiencing pain and fatigue, her health care provider asks the right questions and tests for lupus. When that diagnosis is made, YOUR support means that when she calls the LFA, WI Chapter for information, she is provided with updated, accurate information. With that information, she can find a heath care team, join a support group, and learn more about her disease. And with that support, she can impact others in her community by sharing her story.
GIVE THE GIFT OF HOPE FOR A LIFE FREE OF LUPUS - Your gift will support the LFA, WI Chapter's programs of life-enhancing research, education, support, and advocacy.
We're counting on you and your continued support,
Dawn T. Semanko, President & CEO
Lupus Foundation of America, Wisconsin Chapter