TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – Out of every ten Americans living with the autoimmune disease Lupus, nine of them are more likely to be women. Those women are three times more likely to be African American, according to the Lupus Foundation of America.
Four years ago, Milesha Segun was suffering from something, but she had no idea what.
“We went from doctor to doctor and no one knew what was wrong. They kept sending me home saying I was healthy, but I knew that at the time I was kind of losing control over my body,” Segun said. “It wasn’t a good feeling at all.”
Then, she wound up at Topeka’s Stormont Vail Health, where she saw Rheumatologist Dr. Edward Letourneau.
“When I first saw her in the office the first day, I saw this nice, young woman with blisters and mucus membrane problems, horrible rash on her face, losing hair, thin, gaunt,” Letourneau said.
That’s when he knew Segun was suffering from Lupus, and that her future was uncertain. That day, she was admitted to the hospital, and her fight began.
“Before, during and after that very scary flare up I have been strong in faith, and if anything it made me even stronger in faith,” Segun said. “I am secure that I am going to be okay.”
Over the past four years, Segun was able to overcome that difficult, challenging near-death experience. In doing so, she was able to find success in her career and family, as well as raise awareness of the autoimmune disease.
“About 169 per 100,000… Caucasians in general,” Letourneau said in regards to the number of persons who suffer from Lupus in the United States. “For African Americans, 406 per 100,000. So there’s a real measurable difference.”
Segun hopes more people can become aware of the effect Lupus has on minority groups, especially women within those groups. Then, the knowledge of employers, healthcare providers, families and even people who are suffering will be strengthened.
“For minority women, Native American, Black, Asian, Hispanic, I think that having all other things stacked against us, that as a minority I think that it is important to increase awareness about not just Lupus, but issues that disproportionately affect these communities,” Segun said.