Why Wendy Oliver wants you to learn about lupus: 'It’s not you, it’s inside of you'

Posted at 9:43 PM, May 10, 2023
and last updated 2023-05-10 21:43:25-04

PRINCE EDWARD COUNTY, Va. -- For Wendy Oliver, who lives in Prince Edward County, May 10 marks an important day.

May 10 is World Lupus Day.

Oliver has been fighting the disease for more than 50 years.

Lupus is a long-term autoimmune disease that attacks tissues and organs.

As a result, it can cause swelling and pain across the body.

Oliver was diagnosed at age 35 but later learned from doctors she likely had the disease since she was 19.

They told her it was a factor that led to her struggle to have kids.

“It wants to kill everything inside of you,” she said.

Now more than 50 years later, she continues to battle the disease daily.

Over the years her Lupus particularly attacked her joints and muscles.

She is confined to a wheelchair and her husband has become her primary caretaker.

She said her hands will swell and not work, and her knees fail.

“You have a lot of fatigue and your joints swell and you’re in pain constantly,” she said.

Lupus runs in Oliver’s family.

Her mother was diagnosed with Lupus just five months after she received her diagnosis.

She said she watched her mom's strength in how she pushed on. Her mom lived two decades after her diagnosis before passing from complications from the disease in 2006.

Oliver wanted to share her story to help bring awareness to the disease that currently does not have a cure.

She said the hardest part of the disease is how people often don’t look sick, and people don’t understand the extent of damage that is being done internally.

“It comes and goes whenever it wants to. You can go without one for months and then it comes and slaps you,” Oliver said.

While she is no longer able to skate, bowl, swim, and ride horses like she used to, she’s found other passions in sewing, home projects, and spending time with family.

She hopes her five decades of strength dealing with this disease can show others they are not alone, and she reminds folks to not judge themselves and learn to sometimes say no.

“It’s not you, it’s inside of you,” she said.

You can learn more about the disease and how to donate to support research of Lupus here.

Depend on CBS 6 News and for in-depth coverage of this important local story. Anyone with more information can email to send a tip.

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