Collective marches in Pascagoula to raise awareness of lupus, scleroderma

PASCAGOULA, Miss. (WLOX) – Several people gathered at Pascagoula Beach Park on Sunday to raise awareness about lupus and scleroderma, two rare autoimmune diseases.

For years, Lakesha Bivins has been battling lupus and scleroderma. There are no current cures for the diseases. According to Bivins, awareness is not enough.

“We hear about cancer marches, heart marches, but you never really hear about lupus marches, and people never hear about scleroderma,” Bivins said.

Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease. Those who suffer from the disease say the symptoms are not always noticeable and tend to be confusing.

Monica Martin was recently diagnosed with both diseases. At first, his symptoms seemed ordinary.

“Just extreme fatigue. Some unexplained rashes. Aches. Lots of joint stiffness. Just localized pain in certain areas, things like that,” Martin said.

Erena Lett Weiver noticed a rash on her forehead. After several visits to the doctor, she was prescribed acne treatments before a dermatologist detected discoid lupus, a chronic condition that affects the skin.

“It’s your face, your hair, your ears. Over time, I got better. I came out of my shell plus I’ve come a long way with this,” Weiver said.

Lupus slowly affects daily routines, making chores a constant battle.

“I can’t really run for long. Get plenty of physical activity. I can’t really stay in the sun for long periods of time and I love to dance. I can’t really dance as much as I used to,” Martin said.

Although there is no cure for lupus or scleroderma, Bivins said the battle is not over. She plans to continue hosting an annual awareness walk.

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