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Benefit walk to raise awareness of autoimmune diseases

POSTED April 6, 2012 10:12 p.m.

A Turlock mother, who has taken up the mantle of researching autoimmune diseases after her son’s diagnosis, is planning a benefit walk for the end of April.

The Autoimmune Disease Walk 2012 is set for 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. April 28 at Donnelly Park in Turlock. All proceeds from the walk will be donated to the American Autoimmune Related Disease Association, said event organizer Sarah Mascorro.

Mascorro’s involvement with autoimmune diseases began more than a decade ago when her son, Andrew, began experiencing unusual medical problems at a young age.

It would take a few years and hundreds of tests and a handful of hospital visits before it was finally determined Andrew was afflicted with autoimmune disease.

With autoimmune diseases the body’s immune system mistakes substances and tissues normally present in the body for pathogens and attacks them. According to the American Autoimmune related Diseases Association, approximately 80 to 100 different diseases have been identified as autoimmune based. The diseases are almost always chronic and usually undergo periods of flare-ups and remissions. Some are considered to be life-threatening.

The National Institutes of Health estimates that 23.5 million Americans have some form of autoimmune disease.

Andrew, now a teenager, has been diagnosed with thyroid disorder, type 1 diabetes and more recently, Addison’s disease. Addison’s disease occurs when the body’s adrenal glands fail to produce enough hormones needed to keep the body in balance. It can be life-threatening if the body is thrown into an adrenal crisis.

Diagnosing autoimmune diseases is a difficult task that as Mascorro can attest to, can be a frustrating process. The AARDA conducted a survey among autoimmune disease patients and the majority reported having significant problems in obtaining a correct diagnosis. Many of the respondents said they were told the symptoms were just in their heads or that it was caused by too much stress.

Mascorro’s difficulty at obtaining a correct diagnosis led her to champion autoimmune diseases education and research.

“I was recently invited to participate in an autoimmune diseases walk in New York, but that was just too far to go,” Mascorro said. “But I thought it was a great idea and then I thought I could plan a walk for right here.”

To register for the walk or become a sponsor, call 404-6058.

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