Before May winds down, I wanted to share why this month is so special for me, and where I’ve been putting a lot of my energy, over the past few weeks.
May is Vasculitis Awareness Month, a month-long campaign design to increase awareness of vasculitis, a group of rare autoimmune diseases that cause inflammation of the blood vessels. Maybe some of you might recall the sad passing of famed, Ghostbusters actor and director Harold Ramis back in 2014 due to vasculitis?
Well, what didn’t make the news, but most certainly broke my heart, was that on December 18, 2009, my father Ilya Peckerman also lost his life to complications associated with vasculitis. My father had just turned 56-years-old.
My heart broke, my mind went numb, my internal organs wanted to jump out.
But, my spirit new there was something to do.
In 2010, I created the Shop 4 Vasculitis campaign, gathering fashion and lifestyle brands to donate a percentage of sale during the holiday shopping season to the Vasculitis Foundation, specifically the Ilya Pekerman Fund.
This past October, I joined the board of directors for the Vasculitis Foundation, with a mission to get the media talking about this often-neglected autoimmune disease.
FAST FACTS for VASCULITIS AWARENESS MONTH
- Someone gets diagnosed with vasculitis every 5-minutes
- Nearly 24 million American’s suffer with autoimmune diseases, according to the National Institutes of Health. In comparison, in 2013, there were 14 million Americans living with cancer, according to the National Cancer Institute.
- Early detection is key to potentially saving lives; education community and primary care physicals is essential
We need to START TALKING more about vasculitis and all autoimmune diseases.
From the launch of our new Instagram account, to wonderful TV segment on Good Morning Washington, CW33 Dallas and EyeOpener TV, as well as the creation of the Vasculitis Foundation’s shnazzy media kit, I’m so grateful to all my media friends for helping us increase awareness about vasculitis.
There are so many things one can do after a tragic loss, but the greatest way to heal is to help.
The greatest way to HEAL is to HELP!
Losing my father was life changing. It has taken me nearly eight-years to find my new happy formula for life, and I credit my work on behalf of the Vasculitis Foundation with my ability to find new passion and purpose.
Chatting with patients, care givers, working to get their stories heard so that maybe, MAYBE one more life is saved because one more patient starts to ask the right questions and get to the right doctor and get the right treatment … that’s living with purpose. That for me is healing.
WAYS TO SUPPORT during VASCULITIS AWARENESS MONTH
- Visit VasculitisFoundation.org to learn more about vasculitis, an inflammation of the body’s blood vessels that affects men, women, and people of all ages. The cause of vasculitis is usually not known, but is believed to be caused by an irregularity in the immune system.
- Medical professionals, especially primary care doctors, should consider taking one of the Vasculitis Foundation’s co-sponsored CME courses
- Attend our annual International Vasculitis Symposium June 23-25, 2017 in Chicago, open to patients, care givers and medical community
- Wear our Victory Over Vasculitis shirts to the gym and do push-ups with purpose
- Make a donation to help the Vasculitis Foundation expand awareness and educational efforts, as well as continue to be a global leader in researching vasculitis diseases
Helping really does heal. And, as mothers, it’s a wonderful learning moment to show children that it’s good to do good, it’s good to give of yourself, it’s good to move past your own grief for the greater benefit of all.
I’d love to hear how you do good. Have you turned personal struggles into greater success? How are you teaching your kids to be selfless? Share your mama wisdom below.