There are countless causes out there in the world. We see ribbons, colors, and symbols so often that most of us have lost track of what they all mean. It doesn’t hurt that sometimes the colors people use overlap with other causes and you can end up confused about what someone is supporting. Purple is one of those colors, but on May 19 of this year, it is going to stand for something very specific: lupus. While the disease is frequently known for it not being the solution on a TV show, lupus is a real disease that affects countless lives. “Put On Purple Day” is an annual event that is part of Lupus Awareness Month that is meant to help increase visibility for the people suffering from the disease and their families. In the spirit of this, it seems only fitting that we take a brief look at the disease to understand why it is so many people intend to support research and a greater knowledge of the disease beyond a scattering of wry quips.
Lupus is one of those diseases that makes it uncomfortably clear that our bodies are imperfect. The disease is best defined as an autoimmune condition in which the body’s immune system turns against the body itself and begins to target health tissues throughout the body. This leads to a veritable host of symptoms that range from frustrating to life threatening depending on the severity. Much of the time these symptoms focus on the body at large, but some of them are neurological and can trigger various manifestations of mental illness and motor dysfunction that can lead to pronounced issues with functioning. These are frequently the manifestations of lupus that tend to cause a higher mortality rate among sufferers even if the inflammation and rashes of other manifestations degrade the quality of life. As a chronic illness, lupus is a lifelong condition that can set in as early as 15 and, in rare cases, a little earlier. People consistently seek a cure for lupus to help alleviate this lifetime of suffering and help people to be able to truly embrace life.
Lupus Awareness Month
As with many other awareness months, this month is entirely about increasing public awareness. It was created in response to the simple fact that it easier to get people behind curing and treating something when they know what it is. Too many people are entirely ignorant of what lupus is when compared to other prominent diseases. This is especially true when one compares it to cancer. Activists and organizations began organizing Lupus Awareness Month during May to help counteract this problem and motivate the collection of donations to go towards research. The month is used by organizations at a more obvious level where you’ll see donation drives and lots of purple from volunteers donating their time. On a more personal level, people trying to help are frequently encouraged to open up to others and explain the impact lupus can have one people’s lives in a more personal setting. This tends to work best for people with lupus or people who have a loved one with lupus. The end goal is to make lupus as recognizable as any other disease with its impact and move towards a cure.
Put On Purple Day
While Lupus Awareness Month tends to be a high activity time for organizations dedicated to fighting lupus, it is seldom noted by people outside those organizations. Many of the people in them wear purple all month long without anyone else knowing what is going on. Put On Purple Day is the solution to this problem as it is the day where the goal is to invite as many people to wear purple and raise public awareness as possible. Many organizations put lots of effort into Put On Purple Day so that people know where and how to participate. This has evolved in recent years to include both social media options as well as in-person options. The simple goal is to spread the word as widely as possible for why someone is wearing purple and to make sure that URLs to donation pages or organization names are heard to help build funding for that year. While Lupus’ may remain mysterious, Put On Purple Day is anything but and you can participate this year on May the 19th.
Wearing purple for lupus is a simple way to show your support for people struggling with the impact of the disease on their lives. The simple gesture can help communicate the importance of lupus research to a wider audience. It does need to be stressed that a donation is also a good way to help if you can manage it, as that will give a more concrete form of support to organizations supporting lupus research. Whether you choose to wear purple or donate, you’ll still be helping to support the pursuit of a cure for an unwelcome guest in many lives.