Written on May 10, 2012 at 1:18 pm , by Christie Griffin
Aspiring to work at a major fashion magazine since she was a child, Lauren Finney saw her dreams almost crumble when she was devastated by the diagnosis of lupus about five years ago.
Within weeks of her moving to New York and pursuing a career in the fashion industry, Lauren developed a hard, painful, red and growing rash all over her neck and face—a horror for someone trying to excel in a field so focused on appearances! This first warning sign was followed by extreme fatigue, hair loss and a multitude of doctor’s visits. But, after multiple opinions and doctors, two hospitalizations, a strict medicine plan, and—thankfully—the enduring support of her fashion colleagues, Lauren was finally diagnosed with lupus, an autoimmune disease that impacts the skin, joints, kidneys and other organs.
Lauren may have broken into the competitive fashion world, but not without simultaneously enduring a diagnosis that felt confusing, frightening and dream-destroying. But she is hardly alone; 1.5 million Americans suffer from lupus, 90 percent of whom are young women. Lauren’s work with the SLE Lupus Foundation has allowed her to help others cope and find hope through research that’s taking place. Here, she answers a few questions about her experience:
Q: Why do you think more people don’t know about lupus?
LF: Lupus is such a weird topic. Every time I told someone I have it, they say,” Oh, I know someone who has it…what is that?” People know it’s out there, but what manifests as symptoms and issues in one person is not necessarily the same for someone else. This makes lupus hard to spot, hard to diagnose, hard to treat and hard to understand.
Q: Is the difficulty you had in getting diagnosed with lupus typical?
LF: Yes, it’s entirely common for someone to have trouble getting diagnosed. The symptoms one sees with lupus are often symptoms of other disorders and diseases. It takes on average three years for someone to get fully diagnosed. I feel lucky it only took a year for me.
Q: In your experience, what did you find to be the most common misconception about the disease and how did you overcome it?