Heather Cox was an all-state soccer player in high school and always played to win. Energetic and full of life, she was known as an active, outdoors type who loved activities such as camping and playing softball.
But at the age of 26, happily married to Joe Cox who helps coach football at Western Hills High School and the mother of a 2-year-old boy, she suddenly found herself suffering from such severe joint pain and fatigue that at times she was unable to get out of bed.
At first, Cox said, she had a confusing variety of flu-like symptoms such as achy joints and muscles. But soon she was also feeling nauseated and developed large amounts of bruising on her body. After a few months, doctors were able to determine through a series of tests that she was suffering from lupus.
"Just because you're diagnosed with lupus doesn't mean you're going to die," Cox said. "It's a life-changing disease but you live with it."
Cox, now 28, said lupus is such a life-altering disease people are often scared and worried when first diagnosed.
Living with it is not always easy and it helps to have people to talk to who understand what you are going through, Cox said.
That's why she said she and her friend Susie Nally are co-sponsoring a Franklin County lupus support group.
The two women plan to start holding monthly meetings for anyone who wants to come beginning Jan. 26.
Lupus is difficult to define. It is basically an autoimmune disease and there is no cure for it. No one knows what causes it. There are different types of lupus. The most common two types are systemic and discoid. Systemic lupus can affect any system or organ in the body including joints, skins, lungs heart, blood, kidneys and the nervous system.
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