Duryea Woman Shares Struggle of Living with Lupus

Mollie Gisolfi has battled the autoimmune disease since 2007

DURYEA, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) -- Lupus is a health threat that affects millions worldwide but often doesn't get the attention of other diseases. A Duryea woman who's been living with lupus for the past decade is proof how vital it is to manage the condition.

The Lupus Foundation of America estimates 1.5 million Americans have some form of lupus. The disease occurs when your autoimmune systems attacks its own tissues and organs.  A Duryea woman spoke about her personal battle with lupus.

"I was healthy. I was newly married. You know, we were building a new home. I had a great job and it just turned everything upside down." 42-year-old Mollie Gisolfi flashes back ten years ago when she endured the greatest health threat of her life. Just months after being diagnosed with the autoimmune disorder lupus, she went to the hospital one morning after waking up sick and spitting up blood.

"They thought it was pneumonia and that there was fluid in my lungs but low and behold that evening, my kidneys ended up failing and my heart failed."

Mollie would spend the next three months in the hospital before she was well enough to return home with her husband, Joseph. "It took me like more than a year to recover, just to walk again from that episode." Even though Mollie was on immunosuppressants and steroids for her lupus, those meds can sometimes threaten the patient's health. Commonwealth Health Family Physician Tina George, MD said, "Unfortunately with all of these treatments as with lupus alone there is a significant risk of infection." 

Dr. George said it's vital to diagnose lupus as early as possible helping prevent some key complications from that disease. Since there's no cure for this inflammatory disease, the focus centers on improving quality of life by controlling symptoms and preventing flare-ups.

"People with lupus will have periods where they might look completely healthy but there's always the risk of relapse and relapses can be unpredictable and they can be lengthy," said Dr. George.

Mollie has undergone multiple surgeries for joint infections and currently needs a hip replacement. This mother of one watches what she eats, practices yoga and tries to minimize stress. She offers these words of encouragement for others with lupus. "I would tell them never to give up because you know you can turn it around."

Kidney failure is the biggest risk for most lupus patients. Doctors say by carefully managing it, nearly 90 percent of all lupus patients can expect to live a normal life span.


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