Health & Wellness
Salina Coleman: Warrior for Wellness Leads Brookyn’s Lupus Awareness Effort
Yesterday, May 10, was World Lupus Day, a day observed for increasing awareness about the disease. For Salina Coleman, 49, of the Tompkins Park Senior Citizens Center in Bedford-Stuyvesant, bringing awareness to the plight is an everyday occurrence. Lupus occurs when the immune system, which normally helps protect the body from infection and disease, attacks its own tissues.
She says her mission is to get information into the community about the rise of Lupus among African American communities everywhere. “Women between the ages of 15-44 make up 90% of Lupus cases, and African American women and women of color are the most likely to be diagnosed with some form of lupus.” For Black women, lupus starts developing at a young age — as it did for her when she was 15 and the future was hers: she could have been a professional athlete, a professional singer or a dancer. Now she is developing her skills as a writer.
“Officially” considered disabled, and partially confined to a wheelchair because of the insidious disease’s invasion and destruction of her right limb from the knee area to the foot, Salina is abler and more giving of her time to the cause of wellness than the so-called abled. Ms. Coleman has designed, organized, and hosted more than 225 Lupus awareness workshops and health & wellness learning sessions, reaching thousands of people, at her own expense for over 15 years.
“So, what is Lupus?” is usually the first question asked of her. Lupus is “an inflammatory disease caused when the immune system attacks its own healthy tissues”, is her response. Then she “illustrates” the numbers by showing and explaining what has happened to her.
According to the Living with Lupus booklet, Ms. Coleman distributed, “Your body’s immune system is like an army with hundreds of soldiers. The immune system’s job is to fight foreign substances in the body, like germs and viruses. But in autoimmune diseases, the immune system is out of control, it suppresses the immune system.”
It should be noted that Lupus affects different people in different ways, attacking different parts of the body, from patient to patient. For Ms. Coleman, mostly all parts of her body have been under attack for some three decades. It is not contagious.
Next week: Ms. Coleman tells her personal story in her own words.