Lupus patient with daughter
Liz Attfield's lupus nearly prevented her from having a child. Her daughter, Molly, she says, is a "miracle." (Photo: The Globe and Mail)

This past summer, Liz Attfield hopped into her car and drove for two hours to Muskoka, the cottage community north of Toronto. The Rolling Stones were playing a rare outdoor show, and she wasn't going to miss it.

However, attending a concert under the blazing sun and with thousands of other people isn't easy for Liz She suffers from lupus erythematosus, a chronic autoimmune disease in which the body can attack the joints, skin, kidneys, blood cells, brain, heart and lungs.

Indeed, the event led to a flare-up.

"I was outside all weekend – and the sun isn't good for lupus," she says. "I only have so much energy, and I have to be careful about expending it."

As one of the 35,000 Canadians who have lupus – it usually strikes between the ages of 15 and 44 – Liz is well versed in pain management. She's been dealing with symptoms since she was 14.

"I had gone trick-or-treating and I could barely walk up the stairs," says the now 44-year-old marketing and fundraising executive.

Since she was diagnosed at age 17, Liz has been treated by Dr. Murray Urowitz, Director of the Lupus Clinic at Toronto Western Hospital and a Senior Scientist at the Krembil Research Institute. She has received corticosteroids and drugs to suppress her immune system, which have effectively controlled the disease.

Still, life with lupus has challenges. Liz never thought she could have a child, as lupus patients have high-risk pregnancies.

"I knew there was a chance I wouldn't be able to keep the pregnancy," she says. "That was the hard part."

And she did have trouble conceiving. Fortunately, in 2011, she delivered a healthy baby girl.

"She was three weeks early," recalls Liz. "But I had a great medical team.

"I am so grateful for my daughter."

Krembil Magazine Volume IV - 2018 

Krembil Research Arthritis Magazine featured in The Globe and Mail.

There are six million Canadians currently living with arthritis. The Krembil Research Institute has teamed up with The Globe and Mail on a special project to highlight the groundbreaking research and clinical advancements happening within UHN's Arthritis Program, at Krembil. Inside this issue, you'll learn how our dedicated scientists and clinicians are developing innovative techniques and technologies and pioneering new discoveries to help patients prevent, treat and recover from arthritis. The Arthritis Magazine, 2019 edition is now available online.

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