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Holding you close, and giving you kisses ... aren't the only symbols of love, Small Lady. Quietly watching over someone from afar, is a kind of love too. ~ Sailor Pluto, Sailor Moon US graphic novel #7. Published by Chix Comix, a subsidiary of Mixx Entertainment.

Today, I would like to talk to you about a tough subject that affects millions across the globe. Lupus.

Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease that has affected, and in some cases claimed the lives of many. It is difficult to diagnose, since it can mimic other diseases, such as arthritis. A study in 1994 showed that over 1.4 million people had the disease, and doctors today estimate that a good 16 thousand may develop it each year, in America alone.

Incorrectly, many people believe that only women between the ages of 15-44 contract Lupus, but it's been proven that men, women and children of all ages suffer from Lupus, with symptoms ranging from fever, hair loss, pleurisy, loss of appetite, and sores of the nose and mouth, to muscle pain, weakness, fatigue and sensitivity, to name a few.

Like other autoimmune diseases, such as arthritis, no defiant cause is known. It can be triggered by one of many factors, such as different medications, ultra violet light, stress, antibodies and even infections. Lupus is NOT contagious, but can be genetically passed down through the generations. Though it may skip up to 50 generations before a single symptom is found, those who are pre genetically disposed to autoimmune diseases should ask their doctors for a test during routine check ups.

Lupus can kill, though many do survive more than 10 years, and the disease is more prevalent than AIDS, Sickle Cell Anemia, Cerebral Palsy, Multiple Sclerosis and Cystic Fibrosis.

One way we can fight back against this disease is with knowledge. Asking your doctor for more information is a small step on the road to enlightenment. Contacting the AMA is another. Another way, is by making donations to different Lupus organizations, to help provide assistance to those suffering with the disease, and by raising money to find the cure.

I lost a third cousin to the disease in 2002. She was 25, and left behind a beautiful baby girl, who is now being raised by different family members. It is my hope that we can one day rid the world of this disease, so that others may never suffer such loss.

Lupus is directly related to Arthritis, which has stricken children as well as adults, and runs rampant in my family.

Letís work together to finding a cure for these two diseases.

Please visit the Lupus Foundation at http://www.lupus.org/
And the Arthritis Foundation's website at http://www.arthritis.org/.

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