Courteney Raeburn Photo: Supplied
Cape Town – Thirteen-year-old Courteney Raeburn is trying to make a difference by educating her peers about a condition she has been battling with since the age of eight.

Courteney was diagnosed with lupus five years ago and because her family didn’t know much about the condition, she is trying to change that for others as the world commemorates Lupus Awareness Month.

Lupus is an auto-immune disease that results in the immune system attacking the body.

Courteney’s father, Neil Raeburn, said before his daughter was diagnosed, the family did not know what lupus was, or what was wrong with her. 

“This is why we are pushing so hard for awareness at school what we went through for those eight months or so... We don’t want anyone to go through that,” he said.

“It’s been hectic. It took about three years to stabilise her, but now she has been good. She does well at school and even does sports.”

He said Courteney now saw a rheumatologist, and had been on treatment that had made a big difference. Courteney said she was grateful to teach others about her condition.

“There is no cure, but once you are diagnosed there is a medication that can help you, some can even send it into remission,” she said.

She urged others to get tested for lupus should they show symptoms.

The provincial department of health said these may include a typical skin rash over the bridge of the nose shaped like a butterfly, often characterised by severe sensitivity to the sun. Patients may also develop joint pain and inflammation as well as tiredness.

If there is specific organ involvement, the symptoms are related to that particular system and may become more serious.

Last week, Tygerberg Hospital hosted a 5km walk to raise awareness about lupus and appeal for support.

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