“They had told my parents that I probably would die,” said Wesley Daniel, who was rising through the ranks of the Army when he was diagnosed with lupus.
“ (I was) getting ready to jump into a much better job,” Daniel said. “And it knocked me clear out because I was paralyzed for nine months.” Daniel was retired at 31 years old.
But now, ground-breaking research taking place right here in Oklahoma City.
“We are actually part of the team that is doing the first ever prevention trial for lupus,” said Dr. Judith James, M.D., Ph.D of the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation.
James says it’s fitting that the trials are taking place in Oklahoma.
“We exceed the national average in autoimmune disease cases, especially in autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and in lupus and part of this is probably because of our Native American heritage here in the state,” James said.
Now, they’re hoping to stop lupus before it even begins.
“Lupus is a disease where your immune system, which should be protecting you from flu and strep throat, unfortunately starts to see yourself as foreign and starts to attack yourself,” James said. “It’s great because if they can head it before it becomes damaging to your organs so you get to where you can’t work and you can’t get out of bed, you can’t even get out of your house, this will help.”
Not only is Daniel a lupus patient, he also works with this first-ever trial.
“We started by just looking at people’s files and trying to figure out the gene code, and now we’re first line on trying to stop the disease,” Daniel said. “That’s what this place is for and I’m really proud of it.”
Daniel feels they are conquering the impossible.
“I see progress on something they said they’d never find an answer to,” Daniel said.
While they search for that answer, Daniel says he and all lupus patients will continue to fight.
“Most lupus patients are like me, Type A, so we tend to kick, want to fight. We’re fighters,” Daniel said.
“I’ve had several surgeries and I take 40 different medicines,” Daniel said. “And so it, it’s hard to live with, it is. you have good days and you have bad days.”