By Rebekah Williams
On Friday, May 16, Delta Delta Delta joined thousands across America participating in National Lupus Awareness Day.
Supporting Union Class of 2010 alumna and Tri-Delta sister Ewo Harrell, herself suffering from lupus, Tri-Delta wore purple, lupus’ signature color, on shirts plastered with the phrase, “Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop.”
In order to reach out to the entire campus community, they also spent the day tabling in Reamer Campus Center, passing out bracelets and pamphlets with information about the disease. They tabled not to fundraise, but purely to raise awareness.
Systemic lupus erythematous, or lupus, as it is commonly called, is an autoimmune disease that can attack various parts of the body.
Most commonly targeted are the cardiovascular system, nervous system, liver, kidneys, lungs, joints and skin. It strikes the young, and the average age of death for most suffering from lupus is 26. Lupus has no cure.
In order to raise awareness, Tri-Delta wanted to reach out to as much of the larger campus community as possible.
“The more people know, the more they can do to support the cause and help find a cure to this devastating disease,” said President of Tri-Delta Allison Pash ’15.
Pash continued, “Ewo isn’t just a Delta sister, she was an active Union student who deserves to have the entire Union community behind her in her goal to raise awareness.”
Lupus is much more pervasive and severe than most people understand.
“Take it from me. When I was diagnosed six years ago, I would never have thought it would lead to early leaves from school, frequent hospitalizations, kidney failure, dialysis, chemo, seizures and strokes,” Ewo Harrell stated.
“I never knew that I would lose friendships because there were people who did not understand how cruel and mysterious lupus truly is,” Harrell continued.
When she was 20 years old and a student at Union, Harrell was diagnosed with lupus. She was in nearly constant pain, her eyesight degenerated as a side effect of medication and her kidneys began to fail.
She slipped into a coma for a two-week span as her organs began to shut down. She underwent chemotherapy, causing her to lose her hair. For two years, she had to have dialysis treatment three days a week.
Nine months ago, Harrell underwent live donor kidney transplant surgery, receiving a kidney from her younger sister.
Despite all of this misfortune, Harrell remains grateful and optimistic. “I remain grateful because lupus is what gave me a purpose. I am happy to have many opportunities to share my story and bring awareness.
“I am healthier than I have been in the past six years since my initial diagnosis with lupus, and hungry with desire to make a significant impact in this world with the time I am blessed with,” she stated.
For the past two years, Harrell has served on the Lupus Foundation of America’s Committee for the Walk to End Lupus Now in Tampa, Fla.
The Walk to End Lupus Now raises money for lupus research and education programs while increasing awareness of lupus and rallying public support for those who suffer from it. Most especially, it unites and provides hope for the 1.5 million Americans affected by lupus.
“These campus-wide campaigns are effective in that they help show Union what is important to Greeks while spreading awareness. Delta supports one another no matter what, and we believe in raising funds for causes of significance,” Allison Pash said.
She concluded, “As Ewo continues to conquer her battle with Lupus, we want to help her every step along the way. Gaining campus-wide support through something as simple as tabling, spreading information and collecting donations is the least Tri-Delta can do for such an inspirational woman and sister.”