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“Walk for Rina” raises local awareness regarding Lupus disease

Nurses at the LBJ Tropical Medical Center, friends, and family members of Czarina Roque took part in a special "Walk for Rina" to raise funds to help the young nurse of Filipino ancestry as she battles lupus, an autoimmune disease with no known cure. According to Medical News Today, lupus is a disease wherein the body's immune system becomes hyperactive and attacks normal, healthy tissue.


This results in symptoms such as inflammation, swelling, and damage to joints, skin, kidneys, blood, the heart, and lungs.


When it is functioning normally, the immune system makes proteins called antibodies in order to protect and fight against antigens such as viruses and bacteria. Lupus makes the immune system unable to differentiate between antigens and healthy tissue. This leads the immune system to direct antibodies against healthy tissue - not just antigens - causing swelling, pain, and tissue damage.


The "Walk for Rina" was from Fagaalu to the Suigaula o le Atuvasa Park in Utulei.


According to one a veteran LBJ nurse who participated in the walk and wished to remain anonymous, Roque was a nurse in the LBJ's Maternity Ward who was diagnosed with lupus over a year ago. To help understand more about the disease and to undergo more necessary blood tests and work-ups, Roque departed the territory for the Philippines in search of more advanced medical assistance not available locally.


One local nurse said lupus is not a very common disease amongst local residents, although she did come across an isolated case a few years back, when a patient checked into the medical ward with symptoms of the disease. She said more times than not, when people come in to the LBJ complaining of symptoms like fever, chills, joint pain, and nausea, they usually prescribe medication to address the patient's complaints.


However, lupus is a combination of many things, meaning it can affect all the systems in the body.


"When we come across suspected cases of lupus, it is in our best interest, as well as the patient's, to seek medical attention off-island," said the LBJ nurse. Roque and her family immigrated to American Samoa many years ago. Her father Ardie is a former employee of the LBJ Hospital, working in the MIS unit.


The "Walk for Rina" was not only to help raise funds for Roque, but it was also a way to raise public awareness of a disease that is incurable. "A lot of people are unaware of this disease and know nothing about it," said the LBJ nurse.


There is no definite number as to how many locals have been diagnosed with this disease in years past.


According to a source from the LBJ, another awareness/fundraising "Walk for Rina" is planned for sometime later this year.