After Diagnosed With Lupus, Marathon Manages To Race Again Due To Astonishing Lupus Treatment
Marathon runner Sasheen Reid was diagnosed with the incredibly difficult auto-immune disorder lupus. According to Lupus.org, it’s a ‘chronic (long-term) disease that can cause inflammation and pain in any part of your body.’ And because it’s an autoimmune disorder, it also means that your immune system which is charge of fighting infection, is actually attacking the body instead.
35-year old Reid happened to be in training for the popular 2020 New York City Marathon when the pandemic hit, causing her running dreams to come to a complete halt due to the early lockdown laws in the earlier part of the year.
Reid explained to publication Good News Network (GNN), “I gave birth in May of 2020 and then I went into a really bad flare for about six weeks postpartum.”
Much like other autoimmune disorders such as ALS or multiple sclerosis, lupus happens to be an immune system disorder that results in the natural defense mechanisms within the body turning against themselves.
Thankfully for Reid, at that time a trial opened up at the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research in Manhasset, New York, which would study the effects of a drug called Benlysta on lupus. Reid signed up for the study in the hopes that it would help her condition.
She explained, “I started the trial in October 2020. My husband subscribes to the Lupus Foundation, so whenever new medication comes out he would tell me,” says Reid. “I’ve read a lot about peoples’ struggles with lupus, I have only the joint pain and the hair-loss. I don’t have involvement with kidneys or heart arrhythmia, and I think that’s the point of the trial, if patients can be diagnosed early, can you prevent a progression of the disease?”
Managing To Catch It Early
According to Cynthia Aranow, MD, who happens to be a Rheumatologist at Feinstein that happens to be involved with the study, she told GNN, “One of the biggest hurdles [to treatment] is diagnosing patients early with the condition. On average, it can take up to six years to get a proper diagnosis, which can delay starting people on medications to manage their symptoms, control their disease, and prevent organ damage.”
The medication Benlysta has been approved for patients with lupus that are over ten years in age, and in recent years, has also been approved by the FDA for the treatment of lupus kidney disease. Nevertheless, it tends to be used in treatment after other forms of medication failed.
Dr. Aranow went on to explain, “The goal of this two-year trial is focused on patients with a recent and early diagnosis. We are specifically interested in seeing if early treatment with Benlysta can stop the progression of the disease in its tracks.”
“If we can alter the course of the disease through early intervention, we hope to spare patients from needing immunosuppressive medications (which are associated with many side effects) to control their disease in the future,” she added.
Although Reid shares that she doesn’t know whether she actually took Benlysta or a placebo during the trial, she already feels exceedingly better than she did before. Moreover, her tests for anti-double-stranded DNA, which is the principal lupus biomarker, have been reduced from 650, which is normal for lupus patients, down to 176.
What these results meant for Reid was getting back to running, consuming post-workout collagen drinks and getting to hit the tracks.
Reid explained, “I was a runner. I did 10Ks, I did half-marathons, I traveled to Barbados to do marathons, in upstate New York. So when I got a diagnosis I was determined to, as much as possible, not have it change my lifestyle.”
Although Reid is up for the challenge, she also shares that she needs to take extra good care of herself considering her running training schedule, having a full-time job, and three kids. Also, she makes sure to do extra stretching both before and after her runs, while including alternating runs with cross-training to improve her strength to be able to bolster her joints, which tend to get more inflamed precisely because of her lupus condition.
Just recently, Reid managed to complete a 6K run, which is a huge milestone for her, especially as she trains for the 2023 NYC Marathon that’s coming up.
As for Dr. Aranow, she said, “We are hopeful that the important data gathered from Sasheen and others will lead to breakthroughs in understanding, treating, and caring for people with lupus.”
And what this successful trial on Reid has also allowed is hope in a safe treatment therapy to possibly stop the progression of this difficult and debilitating disease.