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How The Immune System Works... Or Doesn't


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Our Oval Pendant with Chain Necklace to Support Lupus Research. Shop here.

You might've already noticed a theme in my posts this month... but if not, I'm spilling the beans!

In honor of Lupus Awareness Month, I've been highlighting topics centered around Lupus- what causes it, personal Lupus stories, and now, the culprit- The Immune System.

Lupus is a result of the immune system retaliating against itself, and while it's not the only autoimmune disease out there, I have a personal connection to it. My brother was diagnosed in 2012 and it was that experience that sparked the idea for Revive. His diagnosis changed all of our lives, and not for the worst, but for the better. More about why later.

zack hillman doing stand up comedy

My brother, Zack, doing stand up comedy. Seriously, he's hilarious!

So, to cover all the bases on Lupus, I wanted to investigate and explain the human immune system. Here's some easy to read (not too science-y) highlights from what I found.

The Basics

The immune system is our bodies defense against germs, infections and outside organisms that can harm us. It’s made up of cells, proteins, tissues and organs. Usually, our immune system does a great job of keeping us healthy but sometimes the immune system can be compromised which can lead to illness and infection.

The immune system has its own process of attack when it notices the presence of an invader in our bodies, called the immune response. Imagine an army of cells all with different tasks sent out to defend your body from harm. There’s some that identify and attach to the disease to signal a foreign body and there’s some that attack the disease. Then another type that remain to remember and identify the specific intruder so you don’t get sick with it again. The system is complex and strong. But what happens when the immune system doesn’t work exactly the way it’s supposed to?

When The Basics Don't Work

There's a few ways the immune system can lack the proper abilities to fight disease. One of those is called Autoimmune disorders. This is a large category of diseases with more specific designations within its broad heading. Autoimmune diseases are when the body’s immune system mistakenly makes itself a target and starts to attack its own cells. Although there are many types of autoimmune disease, Lupus is the one we'll talk more about.

Lupus & The Immune System

Lupus is a chronic disease where the body attacks itself causing muscle and joint pain. It can also affect the kidneys and other organs. There's not a lot of information about what causes Lupus or why it shows up in some people and not others. Shockingly, Lupus doesn’t have its own dedicated medications either- it’s treated with anti-malarial drugs usually combined with a bunch of other medicines, including steroids.

I learned about this when my brother was diagnosed. Watching the pain he went through and the team of doctors it took to identify his illness was terrifying. Learning he had an autoimmune disorder felt let a punch to the gut and left us unsure of what that meant for him and his future. As he moves forward from that day, he's making huge strides toward his health.

He's adjusted his life in ways most of us take for granted. In order to avoid flare ups he has to limit some things, like sun exposure. Imagine what that’s like for someone living in California. He wears special UV resistant clothing and lots of hats. He'll take a handful of pills every day for the rest of his life. Specialists are on speed dial and he has regular doctors appointments and tests. But, his diagnosis has also been a blessing in many ways.

He is flourishing as a comedian, writer, actor and musician. He is able to live his life fully with only slight modifications. The whole experience brought us closer as a family. We never take our time together for granted and we always check up on each other. Plus, he's part of the reason I started Revive (along with my grandpa). So, overall, we're better because of it. 

I created the Lupus Research Collection with hope that we can provide enough funding to figure out what causes it, how to better treat it and even how to cure or prevent it in the future. Here's my favorite Lupus piece- our Square Earrings.

If you’d like to help our mission by purchasing one of our special pieces for Lupus research, click here to view the full collection. With help from people like you, the future is bright for my brother and the other 5 million people suffering from lupus.

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***All content on this website, including medical opinions and any other health-related information, is for informational purposes only and should not be considered to be a specific diagnosis or treatment plan for any individual situation. Use of this site and the information contained herein does not create a doctor-patient relationship. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.***


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