The Congresswoman

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Life is stressful enough on it’s own. Imagine doing it with a high powered job and living with an autoimmune disease.

Meet the superwoman, Philippine Congresswoman Emmeline Aglipay-Villar.

In October 2007, Em was diagnosed with lupus. She started having blister-looking rashes all over her face and body, her hair started falling off, and she experienced joint pain. She also developed anemia and her back started to hurt – it turned out that her kidneys were failing and this lead to major damage to her kidneys.

Lupus is a hard disease to diagnose because the symptoms are vague. And unlike other diseases, a single lab test cannot confirm it. Some patients die because they have not been diagnosed correctly and they experience severe organ damage. Luckily, Em was diagnosed right on time, but the first 2 years were not a walk in the park.

“It was very difficult for me. I had severe joint pains in my hands,
ankles, knees, feet, shoulder blades, and hips. I could not do
much without feeling so much pain. I relied on pain medication
to cope with the pain.
I could not feed myself because I could not
use my fingers and hands. I couldn’t walk because of the pain in
my knees and ankles. I was dependent on other people for
basic life activities and this was a hard thing for me to accept
as I am a very independent person. I also had terrible rashes and
I lost my hair three times since I was diagnosed. I had to wear
a full wig of real hair or use hair extensions to hide
the bald spots that were the size of cookies. I also just covered
the rashes with make-up, as much as I could cover it.”
-Congresswoman Emmeline Aglipay-Villar

With the desire to prevent further misdiagnosis and provide a support system, Em launched Hope for Lupus last December 2016 along with Dr. Paulo Lorenzo, Dr. Ging Racaza, Sid Salazar, and Nadine Bernardino. “It is a non-profit organization that aims to promote the early detection and proper treatment of lupus by increasing awareness about this mysterious condition” Em comments.

Em has been living with lupus for 10 years now. She still experiences flare-ups from time to time, but she faces life with a positive attitude. She tries to stay away from stress, something that is very hard for a congresswoman, a wife, and a mother.

Em lives her life to the fullest. Despite having lupus, she knows what she wants and she goes after it. Her strength is amazing. Em is amazing.

Congresswoman Emmeline Aglipay-Villar, Lupus Warrior.