REMEMBERING JACQUELINE SILVA – LUPUS WARRIOR
Family honors sister who lost her battle to lupus 10 years ago
Jacqueline Silva was diagnosed with lupus when she was 16 years old. She lived with the disease a little over 10 years before passing away on September 24, 2008. Her life, though short, touched many and her legacy lives on with a family dedicated to increasing awareness and educating their community about this misunderstood disease.
Eddie Silva, Jacqueline’s brother, was a kid himself when his parents told him and his brother about their sister’s disease. “I remember their faces as they tried to explain it to us when they had little to no information themselves,” says Eddie. “I distinctly remember how sad and scared my parents were.”
Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease that can affect virtually any system in the body. Ninety percent of people with lupus are women and minorities are at a greater risk for developing the disease. There is no single test to diagnose lupus and it is often misdiagnosed or misunderstood. It’s not unusual for the first time an individual hears about lupus is at diagnosis.
Despite lupus, Jacqueline lived her life fully. “I didn’t consider her to have a serious disease because of the way she lived her life,” says Eddie. “I consider her to have lived life more fully than I can ever remember living myself.”
Before her untimely passing, Jacqueline found and participated in the Illinois Lupus Walks. “She used to think her experience was rare,” says Eddie. “At the walks, she found out she was one of many.”
The Illinois Lupus Walks bring hundreds out every year to increase awareness about lupus and raise funds to provide support to the lupus community.
“Funds raised go directly to supporting Illinois’ lupus community,” says Mary Dollear, President of the Lupus Society of Illinois. “In addition to raising awareness and funds, LSI’s Lupus Walks are a way for people to pay tribute to the lupus heroes in their life or in the case of the Silva family, to honor the memory of a lupus warrior.”
Although with treatment, most people with lupus will live a normal life – early diagnosis is key. People with lupus often don’t look sick on the surface while their over active immune system is causing lasting damage on their systems. The disease can become life-threatening very quickly.
Shortly before Jacuqeline passed away and while she was in the hospital, Eddie saw nurses in the hospital ward’s waiting room googling lupus for information and asking Jacqueline’s parents about the disease. “I blame myself for not having any resources to give them,” Eddie says. “I feel inspired by the LSI when they send out information about lupus and opportunities to increase awareness about this disease.”
Eddie is helping others who have lupus or care for someone with lupus. With information from the LSI, Eddie is making a difference in his community. And he will be participating in the 2018 Chicago Illinois Lupus Walk on September 23, 2018 in Lincoln Park in honor of his sister, Jacqueline.
“My sister would be proud,” Eddie says, “of the lives we have been able to help – together.”
Walk with Eddie Silva and hundreds of others in the lupus community here.