Cinnaminson Women with Lupus Walk for a Cure

Kara Shaw and Pam Thomas want to make people aware of the disease that affects their everyday lives.

There are some days that Kara Shaw doesn’t even want to get out of bed. Her ankles, wrist and neck joints are so inflamed, they hurt every day. The longtime employee had gone to doctor after doctor, did physical therapy with no results and had multiple tests done.

“I just wanted to know what was wrong,” Shaw, now 20, said. “It was so frustrating and overwhelming—I just wanted to know what was causing this.”

Two years ago, Shaw was diagnosed with lupus, an autoimmune disease where the body’s immune system attacks healthy tissue. Shaw’s joints are affected and she’s often fatigued.

Another Cinnaminson native, Pam Thomas, has very different lupus symptoms. Thomas lost a lot of her hair and has red marks on her forehead. It took about four years for Thomas to be diagnosed with the disease; her skin is the organ it affects.

“I thought I just got really bad sunburn,” Thomas said of first noticing the symptoms. “I’m on medicine for the rest of my life. I can’t go out in the sun or I’ll break out into a rash. My hair isn’t growing back. That’s a big thing for a girl.”

Thomas, 28, has to wear SPF 70 sunscreen daily—and a hat for extra protection on sunny days. Shaw said she stopped taking some of the medications prescribed for her because they just didn’t help. She just takes Aleve for her pain now. 

But both of the women want to raise awareness for their disease and are doing so by participating in the 4th Annual South Jersey Walk for Lupus Now on the Ocean City Boardwalk on Sunday, May 20.

Shaw, a nursing school student, actually found out about the walk through Thomas’ sister, who posted it on her Facebook page.

“My sisters told me they were going to do it for me,” said Shaw. “I want to make people aware of what it is and how many people are actually dealing with it—what it does to your body and how painful it is.”

Thomas and her family and friends walked last year and have a team heading down the shore this year, too.

“I’m trying to get people involved,” Thomas said. “People don’t realize it’s a bad disease to have. It was a really traumatizing experience when I first found out. It’s something you have for the rest of your life. It could affect any organ in your body—I’m fortunate it’s only my skin.”

The annual 2K or 4K walk raises funds for the Lupus Foundation of America—Philadelphia Tri-State Chapter. Shaw’s mother Renee said she and her family are walking for Kara to find a cure.

“The more we looked into it, the more we thought people should know about this,” Renee said. “I would love to see a cure for this. If they need money to be raised, then I’m all for it.”

Thomas, who now lives in Riverton, has taken lupus awareness a step further by writing both Sen. Diane Allen and NJ Rep. Robert Andrews. Unfortunately, she’s never received a response.

But she’ll be out there with friends and family on a team to walk on May 20. As of mid-week, Shaw and her team had 27 registered walkers and nearly $1,500 raised.

To see Shaw’s donation page, click here. To see Thomas’ page, click here.

For information on the and the Lupus Foundation of America, click here.

John Rooney May 11, 2012 at 04:35 PM
Christina, thank you for this great article. My wife, Valerie, and I have been supporting the LFA’s events for the last two years when our daughter, Caitlin, was hired as the Community Development Manager for Lupus Foundation of America, Philadelphia Tri-State Chapter. We have volunteered at the Ocean City Walks, the Lupus Loop and the Lupus Links Golf Tournament. I am really proud of the Cinnaminson Police Department and the other Cinnaminson organizations and businesses that have donated to this very worthy cause.
Linda May 11, 2012 at 05:41 PM
Hi. My name is Linda. I was diagnosed with Lupus 2 yrs ago. I have pain every now and then. The medicine I take seems to help. I have a great doctor. I can't be in the sun or I have painful flair- ups. I will try to make the walk in OC.
Janeen Thomas May 11, 2012 at 09:02 PM
Thanks for the article Christina! Great job. Excellent idea to post an article for this cause, as many people are completely unaware or uneducated about this disease. I watched and continue to watch my sister, Pam, struggle with this for years. She too, had the physical pains along with the hair loss and skin symptoms. Pam has persevered and continues to fight each and every day. The strength and determination I see in my sister is truly admirable. I'm proud of you Pami and look forward to walking to support you and all the people suffering with lupus. I Love you little sis. Xoxo
Janeen Thomas May 11, 2012 at 09:03 PM
concerned town person May 22, 2012 at 07:09 PM
There is a local woman how run's a business and donates 10 to 15 percent of her business. If you need help raising money. I wish I could help donate find a cure for crippling diseases.


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