It's March here at Chronic Pain Central, which, of course, means it's time for March Madness in college basketball! Don't see the connection? Allow me to explain...
Last Sunday, Kenneth Faried led his team - the Morehead State Eagles - to an automatic qualification into the NCAA Tournament by winning the Ohio Valley Conference (OVC) tournament. His team's success also ensures that Faried's tragic personal story - which includes his grandmother's passing from lupus and his mother's current battle with the debilitating disease - will receive significant coverage during Morehead State's games.
As reported in a story of Sports Illustrated, Faried never had a chance to meet his maternal grandmother. While he was still in the womb and the excitement of pregnancy surrounded the Faried family, his grandmother passed away from lupus. Kenneth's mother, Waudda, also suffered from lupus but was determined to push through the pain to support her son. While Kenneth was in elementary school, the lupus began to affect Waudda's kidneys and joints, leading her to spend Kenneth's teen years in and out of the hospital for stretches lasting up to three months. Despite concerns regarding her own well-being, Waudda encouraged her son to attend college in rural Kentucky instead of a school closer to their Newark, NJ home.
According to our Expert Karen Lee Richards in her Comprehensive Overview of Lupus, the debilitating auto-immune disease can attack any part of the body including the skin, joints, blood, kidneys, heart and lungs. As reported, Waudda Farried suffers from chronic fatigue, extreme pain in her joints, and skin problems so severe that surgery has been necessary. In a cruel twist of fate befitting a Shakespearean tragedy, Waudda, with hopes of relieving some of her struggles with lupus, received a kidney transplant in 2010 after a grueling seven year wait, only to learn that she had developed diabetes immediately after her surgery.
Still living in Newark, Waudda Faried struggles with her condition every day. She has attended a handful of her son's games over his four years in college, in part due to the "highway full of scars from her battle" and the chronic fatigue that weighs on her. In 2008, while attending one of Kenneth's tournaments, she had to receive dialysis treatments between her son's games. Though the struggle continues for the Faried family, Waudda's kidney transplant and an improved understanding of the condition should help in the long term. The prognosis for Waudda and other lupus patients is not nearly as grim as it once had been. According to Richards, great progress has been made in just the last 10 years and, "Although as of yet there is no cure for lupus, with current treatment protocols and careful management, people with mild to moderate forms of the disease can have an active lifestyle and live a normal lifespan."
On the surface, March Madness and chronic pain may not seem like a likely match. However, with Morehead State now in the NCAA Tournament, Kenneth and Waudda's story has the potential to be broadcast on a powerful national platform - last year the first round of the 2010 NCAA Tournament had 20 million viewers.
Waudda's fight may not be happening on the court, but she is nonetheless as fierce in the limelight as her son. Though lupus remains a devastating condition, increased awareness for this chronic condition could lead to the buzzer-beater the Faried's have been waiting for.
Published On: March 08, 2011