Maggi Knapp, Giving Back to Others on POP Day
Like so many other people with lupus, Maggi Knapp spent months searching for an answer to what made her joints hurt so much that she couldn’t stand. Maggi was shuttled from doctor to doctor by her mother, with each visit leading to more prescriptions that didn’t work, more unexplained pain, and more hopelessness. Eventually, Maggi was referred to a local rheumatologist who confirmed she has lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.
Maggi now has lived with lupus for most of her adult life, and she knew that she could make a difference. She wants more people to be aware of lupus, to support lupus research and bring an end to the disease’s brutal impact. Today, Maggi is wearing purple as part of Put On Purple Day, a part of Lupus Awareness Month organized by the Lupus Foundation of America to raise awareness of lupus and the approximately 1.5 million Americans who live with the disease.
90% of people living with lupus are women and the average time to diagnosis is nearly six years, which leaves people with lupus struggling to understand what is happening for that entire time. Today, Put On Purple Day is an opportunity to bring awareness to what lupus is, how to recognize its symptoms and how to support individuals living with lupus.
What is Lupus?
Lupus is a chronic, autoimmune disease. In simple terms, the immune system in someone with lupus recognizes healthy tissue as a foreign invader and begins to attack it. The result is inflammation that can affect any part of the body: skin, joints, internal organs. Lupus is known as “the great imitator” because, as happened to Maggi, the symptoms can look like other diseases. A rheumatologist can diagnose lupus with a combination of a blood test and diagnostic criteria.
Maggi’s lupus is now in remission with only an occasional flare. “Lupus has affected my life in so many ways – good and bad. It has definitely made me a stronger person and helped me realize how valuable life is. It has taught me that I can handle just about anything while trying my best to have a positive attitude, which doesn’t always help the disease itself, but helps looking at things in a more positive light.”
Locally in Southern California, the Lupus Foundation of America operates a dozen support groups that provide emotional support, encouragement and education resources. Each group is free to anyone who lives with lupus or cares for someone with lupus. Maggi facilitates the West Los Angeles group, which meets digitally on the 2nd Wednesday evening of every month. (www.lupus.org/socal/find-help-5)
Asked why she volunteers her time, Maggi said, “Being involved in the Lupus Foundation of America has been one of the best things I could have ever done. I met some wonderful people within the organization, and I can help people who have the same issues as me (and some, a lot worse). I can listen, give advice, and share my experiences with people that are newly diagnosed. If I can help just one person within my support groups, it makes me so happy.”
What You Can Do
For Put On Purple Day, wear your favorite purple items and encourage others to get involved to end lupus. Whether it’s a purple shirt, hat, sunglasses or more, Go Purple To End Lupus on May 21 and share why you’re wearing purple on social media. You also can support efforts to advance lupus research by either raising funds or making a donation. Tell your friends and family how they can donate and get involved. And, the good news is, this Put on Purple Day your gift can go even further! Make a donation and it will be triple-matched by Master Spas, up to $25,000!
Throughout the month of May, you can be a part of the growing number of individuals, communities, media and celebrities that are making a difference this Lupus Awareness Month in the fight to end the brutal impact of this disease. Learn how you can get involved and donate by visiting lupus.org/LupusAwarenessMonth.
The Lupus Foundation of America has a questionnaire that can help you learn more: “Could It Be Lupus?”: www.lupus.org/resources/could-it-be-lupus