It took Lois Beckwith 35 years to receive her lupus diagnosis, after first presenting with symptoms at age 11.
At the time she was told she wouldn’t live for more than five years.
Now 66, Dr Beckwith devotes a large portion of her time to raising awareness for what is often described as the hidden disease, as the president of the Lupus Association of Tasmania.
On Wednesday the organisation proudly hosted one of Australia’s leading autoimmune disease researchers, Dr Marline Squance.
The chief executive of the Autoimmune Resource and Research Centre at Newcastle’s John Hunter Hospital, Dr Squance presented at Launceston General Hosptial as part of Lupus Awareness Month.
Addressing diagnosis, treatments and how patients can learn to live with the illness, Dr Squance said the outlook for people living with lupus was positive.
“In 1955 if you were diagnosed with lupus, you would have been given a five year survival rate at 50 per cent,” she said.
“It’s now 95 per cent and getting closer to 98 per cent. So we have come a long way, but there is still more to be done.”
In other news:
Lupus is a chronic condition that results from immune confusion and currently affects about one in 700 people.
Dr Squance said self management was critical, along with support.
“Better outcomes occur when you marry together medical treatments with self management,” she said.
“My little motto is – ‘live a life, not an illness.
“The goal is for the individual to find the right balance, and its your balance, its your illness, its your life.”
For more information, visit lupustasmania.org.au.
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