Walk for Lupus aims to raise awareness, funds


Karen lives in Florida and her brother, Randall Winston, lives in the Hollywood Hills, but these two are closer than most.

He wears part of a circle around his neck. His sister wears the other. That circle was nearly torn apart 13 years ago, when Karen, who has lupus, needed a kidney transplant to stay alive.

"Everyone in my family got tested. We were all very hopeful that somebody would be a match, and I was," said Randall.

Thanks to Randall, Karen's condition is under control. But lupus isn't curable.

"Systemic lupus is an autoimmune disease, and that means that your body all of a sudden doesn't recognize you," said rheumatologist Dr. Joanna Davies. "It happens to start attacking your body."

Davies says chronic infections, rashes and joint pain associated with lupus mimic other diseases.

"On average patients aren't diagnosed for four years," said Randall.

That's why Randall will participate in this weekend's annual Walk for Lupus Now. In July, he went before Congress to fight for more research money.

In the past year, the FDA has approved the first drug specifically for lupus, Benlysta, and doctors have found success in treating patients with cancer and malaria drugs. But overall, progress in lupus research has been slow.

"That's just tragic. The thing about lupus, because it affects so many parts of the body, is lupus research money will benefit so many other afflictions," said Randall.

The annual Walk for Lupus Now is this Saturday, September 29. Check-in is at 9 a.m. and the walk starts at 10 a.m.

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