Lupus support group started at hospital

Published 8:06 pm Tuesday, January 23, 2018

By Adam Dodson | The Selma Times-Journal

A Selma resident is dedicating her efforts towards assisting others who struggle with her same disease.

Sharesha Sneed, a meditech employee of Vaughan Regional Medical Center, was diagnosed with Lupus back in 2002, and is now making sure her peers understand the seriousness of the illness.

She organized the Wellness in Living with Lupus Successfully Support Group. Their first meeting is 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 31 in the first-floor classroom located in the Vaughan Medical Tower. The meetings will take place monthly.

According to Sneed, her motivation for organizing these events is based in the need for up-to-date information regarding Lupus. It is an autoimmune disease that can cause spontaneous inflammation of multiple organs and tissues. Although it is not contagious, Lupus has a wide array of symptoms and affected areas. One of its more obvious symptoms is a butterfly-shaped rash on the victim’s face.

Because of the multiple varying symptoms, Lupus is difficult to diagnose and prepare for. For example, one “flare up” that Sneed endured led to her missing three months of work.

“We need to get information out to patients in need and their family members,” Sneed said. “Lupus is something rarely talked about despite there being no cure for the disease. The effects of it are all different. The symptoms can hit you in other ways than you were expecting.”

Sneed emphasizes the importance of education because she wishes she would have had access to more information when she was diagnosed.

Being a young single mother, Sneed says she did not pay enough attention to how serious Lupus was, choosing to go about her daily activities as if nothing has changed. After having various symptoms, including migraines and uncontrollable sleep patterns, Sneed finally heeded her doctor’s advice and treated Lupus with the caution it deserves.

16 years since her original diagnosis, Sneed has now learned to live with the disease, dealing with its struggle on a day-to-day basis. Despite the issues Lupus causes, Sneed stays motivated to ensure those affected with it receive a correct diagnosis as soon as possible.

The support group also aims to aid people adjusting to the different lifestyle changes that come with the disease. Along with than the aforementioned symptoms, Lupus impacts an individual’s life beyond the doctor’s office.

“I had to learn all over again what I could and could not do,” Sneed said. “Some challenges with getting around were a big change for me. I also had to start taking medication every day.”

Not only does Sneed take Lupus seriously, she gets others involved with the cause too. Students and faculty from the University of Alabama have expressed their interest to attend the support group in order to learn more about the complications associated with Lupus.

Sneed is expecting people of all ages and backgrounds to attend the support group. To RSVP for the event, call 334-418-4486. Refreshments will be served.