2015 Volunteer Recognition Dinner

On Thursday, February 19, volunteers and board members of the Lupus Foundation of America Connecticut Chapter gathered at the Governor’s Residence in Hartford for our Volunteer Recognition Dinner. It was a night devoted to acknowledging and showing our appreciation to all of those who contribute their ongoing support in solving the cruel mystery of lupus. Our volunteers are very important to us, and we want them to know that!

Throughout our night of “thanks,” guests were able to dine and mingle with one another. It was a great opportunity to reconnect with familiar faces, as well as meet new people. Two guests were honored at the dinner: event photographer Bill Shea and volunteer Sharon Wygonowski. Their support and efforts have truly made a difference, along with the rest of our volunteers.

To learn more about getting involved, visit our website:

http://www.lupus.org/connecticut/pages/get-involved

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Managing Pain

When you are living with lupus, pain is a common symptom you will experience. It can occur in various places around the body. Researchers have found that ninety percent of lupus patients experience joint or muscle discomfort. Other types of pain among lupus patients come in forms of arthritis, fibromyalgia, lupus myositis and lupus headache. Though the pain may not go away completely, there are many ways to go about diminishing the discomfort:

Meditation—considered a complementary and alternative medicine, allows you to direct your focus on things other than the pain. This can also be done through guided imagery, which focuses and directs your imagination.

Massage & Acupuncture—for lupus patients suffering pain, massages are beneficial and therapeutic. However, be cautious if you have cutaneous lupus, or lupus that predominantly affects your skin because intense massages can negatively affect your body. Evidence surrounding acupuncture and its benefits for lupus patients are limited, but has still been used as a method of alleviating lupus pains.

Medication—one of the more common approaches to relieve pain amongst lupus patients. NSAIDs, corticosteroids and antimalarial drugs are a few of the medicines recommended or prescribed to patients to alleviate pain. Before taking these medications, make sure you know the side effects and risks that come along with using them.

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Boost That Immune System!

It’s important to keep your immune system as healthy as possible, but sometimes that’s hard to do. Winter makes it especially difficult—it is one of the seasons where many people find themselves getting colds, the flu or other viruses. For lupus patients, this affects them more severely than it does others. In their immune systems, something goes wrong, and they end up creating autoantibodies that attack and destroy the healthy tissue.

There are many ways to go about strengthening your immune system. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is key. This can be done by exercising (i.e., low-impact workouts), eating a well-balanced diet, sleeping for an adequate amount of time, and so on. Studies have found that your entire body functions more efficiently when using healthy-living strategies like the ones mentioned.

Positive thinking has been said to help people maintain a healthy immune system. Keep yourself occupied with things that you enjoy, whether it be watching your favorite movie, spending time with family and friends, or reading inspirational material. Meditation is also recommended—one study found that your mind can decrease your chances of getting a cold by 40 to 50%.

Something as simple as washing your hands is one of the easiest ways to boost your immune system. It helps prevent infection from taking over your body—make sure to moisturize after during this cold season to avoid dry and itchy skin. In addition to keeping your hands clean, it’s important to watch things like toothbrushes, which can cause contamination.

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Foods to Incorporate in a Healthy Diet

A healthy-eating regimen is something that many strive to establish. After all, preserving your health should be a top priority. Sometimes when people take the steps to eat healthier, it’s hard to know what foods they should or should not eat. For lupus patients, it’s important to maintain a healthy lifestyle. There are many ways to go about doing this, one of them being a change in diet. Follow the motto “out with the bad, in with the good,” and you’ll be leading a much healthier life in no time.

What exactly should this healthy-eating plan include? First and foremost, it’s important that water is a staple in your diet—drink at least 8 cups a day. It keeps you hydrated and benefits your entire body. One source found that drinking water helps eliminate toxic build up and a faulty digestive process that many lupus patients suffer from.

Fruits and vegetables are also key foods for a well-balanced diet. They provide you with sufficient amounts of fiber, vitamins and minerals. Another benefit these foods offer is that they include anti-inflammatory properties, which could potentially ease lupus symptoms. Any other natural whole foods in raw form are highly recommended as well.

If you eat fatty meats, switch them with low-fat proteins—they are healthier in general. They can include chicken, fish and beans. If you like fish, opt for salmon and tuna, being that they are very rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which also have the potential to ward off inflammation.

Foods to avoid or cut from your diet—processed and fast foods, artificial sweeteners, salt, caffeine, and alcohol. It’s okay to indulge every once in awhile, but it’s better to completely cut out foods that don’t offer any benefits to your health. Once you focus on eating more nutritious foods, it will become a habit and allow you live a healthier, full life.

Beat the Cold: Skin Care Tips for the Winter Months

Wintertime is one of the worst seasons for your skin. The cold weather dries it out and can cause irritation. This is especially problematic for lupus patients, who often deal with skin troubles. Luckily, there are a few ways that you can prevent the cold from getting the best of you and your skin!

1. Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize – this is one of the best ways to prevent dry or irritated skin. It not only reduces chapped skin, but also leaves it feeling very smooth. Make sure to choose a moisturizer that’s made for sensitive skin.

2. Read your labels – it’s important that you double-check what your skin care products contain. Stray away from anything with fragrance or deodorants.

3. Use sunscreen – this may seem like something you only need to do in the summer, but the UV light is still strong during the winter months. Reducing exposure to the sun altogether is most beneficial for you and your skin.

4. Wear protective gear- hats, gloves, jackets. Keep yourself bundled with warm clothing and items that won’t expose your skin to the cold.

While these tips are important for wintertime, keep them in mind year-round. You want to make sure to stay on top of your skin care at all times to alleviate and/or prevent any irritations or skin-related issues.

Reduce Fatigue With Low-Impact Exercises

One of the most common symptoms of lupus is fatigue, which can affect a person both physically and psychologically. There may not be a way to eliminate this symptom altogether, but there are a few things you can do to reduce it. Exercising is a great way for lupus patients to decrease fatigue and gain back some of their energy.

Experts have suggested low-impact aerobics, like walking, swimming and cycling, as ways to alleviate fatigue and tiredness. Pilates and yoga have also been suggested, due to their low-impact nature. All of these exercises can be done at easy paces, with gradual advancement. Everyone’s endurance levels while exercising vary – some people may be able to go for a 20 minute walk without any issues, while others have a harder time doing so. What’s important is that these exercises are done up to one’s ability.

While taking on these low-impact exercises, remember a few things: dress appropriately if you workout outside, stay in-tune with your body and any warning signs it may give off, and check with your doctor before starting any of these new exercises!

Lupus Organizations Collaborate to Further Advance Research

Lupus Insight Prize to be awarded to Outstanding Scientist for a Novel Discovery

The Alliance for Lupus Research (ALR), the Lupus Foundation of America (LFA)  and the Lupus Research Institute (LRI) join together again to encourage scientific advances in lupus research. The Lupus Insight Prize, a highly successful collaboration among the three organizations, recognizes a major, novel insight and/or discovery that has the promise of changing thinking about lupus as well as a high likelihood of generating further advances in the diagnosis and treatment of the disease. Lupus is an unpredictable and sometimes fatal autoimmune disease that affects an estimated 1.5 million Americans.

The Request for Nominations will open January 15, 2015, with applications due by March 19, 2015.  The 2015 Prize will be awarded by the three organizations at the Federation of Clinical Immunology Societies (FOCIS) annual meeting in San Diego this June.

“One goal of the Lupus Insight Prize is to stimulate the interest of outstanding investigators who have not previously focused their efforts on lupus,” commented Mary K. Crow, M.D., Chair, ALR Scientific Advisory Board, Physician-in-Chief and Chair, Department of Medicine, The Hospital for Special Surgery.  “We would love to receive nominations of scientists from other fields who have had a novel insight with potential relevance to the pathogenesis or treatment of lupus.  Awareness of the Lupus Insight Prize throughout the scientific community should grow the number of strong scientists who are challenged to unravel the complexities of lupus.”

“Collaboration among the lupus community is important to maximize efforts to diagnose lupus, bring the disease under control and find cures,” said Gary S. Gilkeson, M.D., Chair, of the Lupus Foundation of America Medical-Scientific Advisory Council.  “The support and collaboration for the Lupus Insight Prize from the Lupus Foundation of America, Alliance for Lupus Research and Lupus Research Institute further demonstrate the commitment of these organizations to work together to advance lupus research.”

Peter Lipsky, M.D., LRI Scientific Advisory Board Member and Editor-in-Chief of Arthritis Research and Therapy noted, “Lupus is a complex disease that requires out-of-the-box thinking to increase understanding and further our ability to treat persons with this disease effectively. Quantum leaps in understanding lupus will come from innovative discoveries by outstanding scientists. The Lupus Insight Prize will recognize those novel discoveries.”

The Lupus Insight Prize recipient will be awarded $200,000 to be used for research dedicated to furthering understanding of the genetic, environmental, molecular, immunologic or cellular aspects of lupus or its treatment. The Prize must be utilized within three years from the date awarded.

Lupus Insight Prize nominations will be reviewed by members of the independent Selection Committee, which is comprised of leading lupus scientific leaders from across the country and representatives of the three funding lupus organizations. The Selection Committee will review nominations and award the Prize based on several criteria, including academic achievements, creativity, insight, and potential for future advances that will improve the lives of people with lupus.

Nominations are open to investigators of any age or rank affiliated with an academic, biomedical, research or government institution in the United States. Nominations will not be accepted for investigators working in the biotechnology or pharmaceutical industries. Additionally, nominees may not already possess a grant award to pursue the aims described in the Research Narrative. Co-investigators or teams of investigators are not eligible for the Lupus Insight Prize.

Instructions on how to submit a nomination for the Lupus Insight Prize and the complete guidelines are available at www.LupusInsightPrize.org. Nominators and Candidates should work together to prepare each Candidate’s Letter of Nomination for the Lupus Insight Prize. Nominations of basic, clinical, and translational scientists will be considered. The Nominator should submit a two-page Letter of Nomination, describing the novel discovery that will be recognized. In addition, the worthiness, expertise and achievements of the Candidate should be described. The Letter of Nomination should specifically focus on the unique insight generated by the Candidate’s discovery that might have an impact on advancing the future of lupus research, as this is the main basis for the award of the Prize.  The full application must be submitted no later than March 19, 2015 at 5 p.m. ET.

The Prize recipient will be announced and honored publicly at a ceremony on June 24, 2015 during the FOCIS 2015 Annual Meeting in San Diego, CA. At the ceremony, the award recipient will share plans about his or her lupus research and future plans. Details about the ceremony and reception honoring the Prize recipient will be posted to www.LupusInsightPrize.org in the coming months.