A successful property developer and business economist described how he was forced to quit his job when a rare, incurable disease struck his body.
Allan Nelson, 52, was first diagnosed with lupus 14 years ago and has been fighting the disease ever since.
A full diagnosis of active systemic lupus and rheumatoid arthritis resulted in him switching from athletic fitness and two miles of daily running and enjoying kickboxing and soccer to five and a half stones in just a few months.
Mr Nelson, who also lost his business and witnessed most of his failure, said his life “came to a standstill, it suddenly stopped”. reports Coventry Live.
“There is no way out of that, you can’t find a comfortable position, you don’t sleep well, you eat anything and everything because of the steroids,” he said.
“You are basically disabled, you don’t want to and can’t do anything, and you have to deal with the psychological effects of seeing your body and your social life (away).”
Lupus is a chronic, incurable autoimmune disease, which means that it occurs when your body’s immune system attacks your own tissues and organs.
Diagnosis is not always easy and can lead to excruciating joint pain, hair loss, headaches and other conditions like arthritis – as was the case with Mr Nelson.
Mr Nelson, who is now receiving regular treatment, wants to raise awareness about the condition so that more people can become aware of it and get an early diagnosis. In doing so, he collected money himself.
“They haven’t found a cure for the condition, but lupus is very, very little funded,” he said.
In August, Mr Nelson hosted a fundraising snooker night in his hometown of Coventry which raised £ 700 for lupus support groups.
“It was actually pretty emotional, I had friends who were from London, but I had old school friends visiting whom I hadn’t seen in over 20 years,” he said.
“I brought something home, brought back awareness to my community and also solidarity.”
According to the Lupus Foundation of America, lupus is two to three times more common among ethnic minorities.
Comedian Gina Yashere and singer Seal are just two of the famous names suffering from this disease.
He believes lupus “needs more media attention,” especially to help ethnic minorities, who may experience lupus symptoms much earlier.
“Your body is attacking itself,” he said.
“Lupus is more than just a physical thing, it’s also a mental thing. It mostly affects Asian, African and Caribbean women, but not that many men.”
Mr Nelson first went to the doctor after having difficulty walking, but normal life has been a big struggle since the diagnosis.
“You are a permanent banned resident,” he said.
“My body is a completely different color from my face because of the steroids I’ve been on for the past 14 years.”
Symptoms of lupus include joint and muscle pain, extreme fatigue, rashes, headache, mouth pain, high fever, hair loss, and sensitivity to light, according to the NHS.
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