Clare McKendry (left) and her cousin Rose Boutelia pictured at last year’s Lupus UK gala held in the Marine Hotel.
BALLYCASTLE woman Clare McKendry has thrown her heart and soul into organising fundraisers for a charity very close to her family's heart, but this year Clare is calling on the wider community's support to help her reach her goal of £10,000 for Lupus UK.
Clare, who was diagnosed with the autoimmune disease when she was just 35-years-old, has raised an outstanding £7,300 with her fundraisers over the past three years, but has her heart set on smashing her target with her next fundraiser due to be held on April 6.
The Lupus Gala Ball will be held in the Marine Hotel and Clare wants to raise awareness of the life-limiting disease. The Chronicle caught up with Clare to find out more about Lupus and how it affects her daily life.
Lupus is an incurable immune system illness mainly suffered by females. It can affect any part of the body and can be life-threatening.
Clare explained: “It can take on average 7.5 years for a Lupus diagnosis. It is known as the imitation disease as it mimics so many other conditions. The symptoms can often be mistaken, for example I was originally diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis until my consultant spotted that something just wasn't right during a routine appointment.” Following further tests, Clare was diagnosed with Lupus.
Although Clare, now 39, tries to go about her daily life, Lupus restricts her considerably and she often needs to use a walking frame when out and about.
She said: “My life has changed significantly since I have had Lupus. My symptoms were chronic fatigue and swollen hands. After I passed out at my brother's house we were told that was one of the tell-tale signs, but no two sufferers will have the same symptoms, hence the trouble with diagnosing.
“Generally I cope alright with life, but it can often hit me like a brick when I'm out with my walking frame and meet someone closer to their 80's or 90's with one similar.”
*Full story in this week's Chronicle*