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Uniting Against Lupus: Houston Woman Leads the Charge in Annual Walk to End Lupus Now!

By Jo-Carolyn Goode

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    April 9, 2024 (Houston Style Magazine) — In a city teeming with resilience and solidarity, Monika Somerville emerges as a beacon of hope for Lupus Warriors across Houston. Diagnosed with lupus nephritis shortly after relocating from Indianapolis to Houston in 2015, Monika’s journey epitomizes strength and determination in the face of adversity.

Initially attributing her symptoms to the city’s humidity, Monika soon realized that something more insidious was at play. “My feet started swelling, I was extremely fatigued, and I was experiencing debilitating joint pain,” she recalls. Despite her youth and vitality, lupus had stealthily infiltrated her life.

With no familial history of the disease, Monika’s diagnosis came as a surprise. Yet, as she delved deeper into her journey, she recognized the prevalence of lupus within communities, particularly among people of color. Determined to shatter the stigma surrounding autoimmune diseases, Monika assumed the role of chair for this year’s Walk to End Lupus Now!, hosted by the Lupus Foundation of America Texas Gulf Coast Chapter.

Scheduled to take place on Saturday, May 4, at Texas Southern University, the walk serves as a poignant reminder of the resilience and solidarity within Houston’s lupus community. Monika, alongside Anne Marie Blacketer, CEO of the Lupus Foundation of America Texas Gulf Coast Chapter, spearheads efforts to raise awareness and support for those battling lupus.

Reflecting on her journey, Monika emphasizes the importance of understanding that appearances can be deceiving. “Just because you look fine on the outside, doesn’t mean you’re not sick on the inside,” she asserts, challenging common misperceptions about autoimmune diseases.

With an estimated 2.5 million Americans living with lupus, the walk holds profound significance in amplifying the voices of those affected by this chronic condition. Sixty-three percent of lupus patients are Black, Hispanic, or Asian, highlighting the urgent need for increased awareness and support.

Registration for the Walk to End Lupus Now! is now open, inviting warriors, volunteers, and advocates to unite in solidarity against lupus. With options for free registration or a $25 fee including a commemorative t-shirt, participants can contribute to research and awareness initiatives while honoring those impacted by lupus.

As Houston prepares to take strides towards a future free from lupus, Monika Somerville stands at the forefront, embodying resilience, advocacy, and hope for Lupus Warriors everywhere.

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