Mercedes Yvette (ANTM Cycle 2) Q&A on LUPUS

What is lupus? Is it contagious?
Lupus is an autoimmune disease in which white blood cells attack tissue and organ as though it is a foreign invader. Lupus is not contagious. Certain ethnic groups (people of African, Asian, Hispanic/Latino, Native American, Native Hawaiian, or Pacific Island descent) have a greater risk of developing lupus, which may be related to genes they have in common. Although everyone is at risk for developing Lupus.

How did you find out that you had lupus?
I was diagnosed with Lupus when I was 20 but I had symptoms such as joint paint, heavy fatigue, malar rash, heart ache, (not the one from boys), and sensitivity to sunlight.

Does it run in your family?
My grandmother had Lupus and my father has a form of an autoimmune disease.

How did it make you feel?
I didn't know too much about Lupus except that my grandmother died from it.? I was obviously devastated, and I feared for my future.

How long have you been the spokes person for lupus foundation? What made you want to represent the foundation?
I have been a Spokesperson for the Lupus Foundation of America for 6 years now. I wanted to be apart of an organization that educated the public, advocated for more governmental funding. Ironically, when I was trying to find out more about my disease, the LFA website was the first to pop-up and was the most informative to my needs.

Which message do you want to get out to those who have the disease?
If you are in the childbearing years of 18-44, and experiencing symptoms of heavy fatigue, joint pain, sensitivity to light, lung or heart problems. Take these symptoms seriously and immediately see a health care provider, especially if you are a minority, Latin, African American, Asian, and native American, since this is the most affected group. Early diagnosis leads to medical intervention which in turn leads to a hopefully healthier life.

And what's this tour all about? How long is it? Where you going?
The Ad council along with the Department of Human and Health Services of Women's health is launching a 2 year campaign to make more woman aware of the symptoms of Lupus and to seek medical evaluation. Anyone can go to www.couldIhavelupus.gov to find out more.

What do you like to do for fun?
I just got became a Yoga instructor and love to practice yoga. I also love to take my mini bulldog Porkchop on hikes when its not too hot out.