Olympic Inspiration: Athlete Battles Autoimmune Disorder to Medal in Tokyo

23 Aug 2021 12:51 PM | Anonymous

Grenada's Kirani James celebrates winning the bronze medal in the men's 400m final during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Summer Games at Olympic Stadium on Thursday, Aug. 5, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports Caribbeanlifenews.comThere were many inspirational stories coming out of the Tokyo Olympics. However one that may have particularly stood out to the LFJ community was that of Kirani James of Grenada. The 2012 400m Olympic champion experienced major setbacks after his diagnosis with the autoimmune condition Grave's disease in 2017 and the loss of his mother in 2019. But on August 5, against a stellar line up, James staged an amazing comeback to win a Bronze medal, his third consecutive Olympic medal in that event.

Graves disease, like Lupus, is an autoimmune condition, in which the body’s natural defence system becomes dysfunctional and attacks healthy tissues, causing inflammation and illness. In Grave’s disease, this inflammation primarily targets the thyroid gland, a gland at the front of the neck that produces hormones critical for regulating the body’s metabolism.

James’ story recalls that of other athletes who have fought autoimmune disorders to stand out in their fields. One such person is famed US Olympian Gail 

Yolanda Devers Olympics.com https://olympics.com/en/athletes/yolanda-gail-devers-roberts

Devers who battled severe Grave's disease that threatened to end her career. After embarking on an intensive and lifelong treatment programme, Devers came back to win consecutive Olympic Gold in Barcelona and Atlanta. She continued to compete with distinction until age 40 and today remains an advocate for Grave's disease awareness with the goal of making sure that millions affected “are under a doctor’s care”. She told CNN news:

"I believe I'm stronger at having to go through what I went through ... Everybody's faced with challenges. We all feel like sometimes walls are closing in on us and there's no way out.What do you do? You remember that strength and resilience that you have when you step on the line."

Venus Williams Photo Credit: Wikipedia.orgTennis star Venus Williams also endured debilitating symptoms of Sjogren's syndrome for 7 years before being diagnosed in 2011, coming back to win gold in 2012 and 2016 Olympics. In an interview with Prevention Magazine in 2019, Williams had this advice for persons battling autoimmune disease. "Don’t be discouraged, because what [you're] going through is similar to other people," she says. "Talk to those people who understand you or have a similar condition, reach out, and build a [support] team. Don’t isolate yourself. Don’t give up."

As we salute our athletes who gave their all in Tokyo, we want to also recognise all our brave lupus warriors, everyday heroes who who defy the challenges and continue to step out on the line of life each day and inspire others. We salute you!

https://edition.cnn.com/2021/07/06/sport/gail-devers-olympics-graves-disease-spt-intl/index.html

https://www.prevention.com/health/a28446557/venus-williams-sjogren-syndrome/

Lupus Foundation of Jamaica is a volunteer-run, member-based charitable organisation in operation since 1984, dedicated to improving the lives and outcomes of persons with lupus through information, support, advocacy and research. To learn more, join, volunteer or donate visit www.lupusfoundationjamaica.orgor call the help line at 8767783892.


Miss Jamaica World Khalia Hall to join with Government and Medical Societies to support World Lupus Day Observance


Khalia Hall, the reigning Miss Jamaica World, is demonstrating the philosophy of Beauty with a Purpose as she lends her time and influence to the cause of Lupus Awareness.

Miss Jamaica World is one of several well-known personalities that have endorsed the efforts of the Foundation over the years to promote awareness about Lupus.  “I feel grateful to be able to use my platform as Miss Jamaica World to help the Lupus Foundation of Jamaica to raise awareness around this debilitating disease.” 

On May 10, Lupus Foundation of Jamaica will be joining in with lupus groups across the world in observance of  World Lupus Day 2022 under their own theme LUPUS LEVEL UP: Make Lupus Visible.  According to Dr Desiree Tulloch-Reid, President, the campaign will have an Island wide reach through media interviews and promotions, poster displays, a social media campaign and Awareness walks dubbed “Make Strides for Lupus” across the Island and will culminate in a World Lupus Day Ceremony and mini-health fair at Emancipation Park, New Kingston, on May 10, 2022.  “We will be engaging all our members, supporters, media partners, Government, community organisations, the public at large and all our online and social media to increase awareness of lupus, specifically this year emphasising the impact of lupus on the body’s organs.”  

Ms Hall will be supporting the LUPUS LEVEL Up campaign by a video endorsement for social media and being photographed in the purple T-shirt bearing the Campaign theme.  She will also attend the Foundation’s key event, a free mini-health fair at Emancipation Park, and take part in an official Opening Ceremony at 12:00 pm in tandem with the  Minister of State in the Ministry of Health & Wellness, Hon Juliette Cuthbert-Flynn who will declare the event open.

Also present at the free event at Emacipation Park will be representatives of several health Professional Associations including Medical Association of Jamaica, Dermatology Association of Jamica, Pharmaceutical Society of Jamaica and Jamaica Physiotherapy Association as well as Mandeville Regional Hospital Nephrology Unit, who will interact with the public and provide health talks and demonstrations.  National Health Fund will provide free health screening in tandem with the Diabetes Association of Jamaica.  A live broadcast on Riddim FM 102 with host Vernon Derby will also feature conversations with health professionals, volunteers and persons living with Lupus, as well as reports from participants in awareness walks and other activities across the Island.

The public is invited to wear purple on Tuesday May 10 in solidarity, to participate in local activities and make donations to the Foundation towards support services for persons with Lupus. Further information is available at the Foundation’s website www.lupusfoundationjamaica.org or by contacting 8767548458.


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