Lupus support groups at Matthew Walker Clinic

Tracy Rode (photo: D. Culp)

Tracy Rode (photo: D. Culp)

Two powerful community resources have combined forces to bring hope and various resources to the community at larger. The Mid-South Lupus Foundation of America and the Jefferson Street Matthew Walker Clinic have joined forces to bring a series of education and support group meetings to Lupus survivors and their supporters. Nashville falls under the umbrella of the Mid South Chapter (Lupus Foundation of America) serving Tennessee, Alabama and Kentucky.

The June support group was well attended and facilitated by Mid South President/CEO Tracy Rode, a Lupus survivor herself and nutrition educator Margaret Martin, RD, MS, LDN, CDE.

The remainder of these invaluable Lupus support groups will take place on: July 8, August 19, September 9, October 14, November 11 and December 9. All meetings will be held at The Matthew Walker Clinic located at 1035 14th Avenue North, Nashville, Tenn.. 37208. Phone: 615-327-9400.

Healthy and practical tips were taught by the nutritionist on how to eat better in order to live better. Everyone including President Rode shared how Lupus affects their daily living and lives as a whole. That and much more was covered in the safe environment, while a well-rounded, colorful display of healthy snack items and treats were offered.

“It’s amazing how something as simple as a change in diet and prospective can influence and change a person’s way of life,” said one of the support group members. To keep fun on the proverbial menu, attendees enjoyed a game of ‘Lupus Bingo’ where they played the simulated game of bingo from display sheets. What made this unique and understandable to the group were the Lupus disease symptoms, sayings, and all things associated with Lupus.

For example, each of the squares read like: ‘you don’t look sick,’ ‘swelling,’ ‘remission’ or ‘depression’ (to name a few) within the squares. Players were asked to mark an ‘x’ in the square when the subject of the boxes included it on their sheets.

As in regular Bingo, players could earn the opportunity to yell ‘bingo’ by getting bingo across, up, down or diagonally with a free space included. The winner won a prize and everyone that played enjoyed the twist and sheer fun of it all.

Lupus is certainly nothing to play with or make light of. Both the support group facilitators and interactive attendees actually found ways to make learning invaluable ways to cope and make life as a survivor livable.

President/CEO Rode has a lengthy history of advocacy for patient education and supportive services—most recently as director of education and programs for cancer nonprofit Vital Options International, and previously as director of client services for Pearl Point Cancer Support.

In 1995, Rode founded Vision3 Interactive Media, an Internet consulting company specializing in developing online solutions to organizational challenges for both nonprofits and corporations. Long active in the community, Tracy has served in leadership roles for a variety of charitable organizations encompassing arts, education, survivorship and healthcare.

Rode is a graduate of Vanderbilt University and resides in Nashville with her husband and teenaged son and daughter.

Thankfully as we move ahead into the 21st century with the plethora of knowledge and technology we have access to, we will one day find a cure for this dreaded disease. Unfortunately, there are many still out there that are unfamiliar with its existence and wrath.

Fortunately, there are still many groups who are finding solutions, ways to cope, and exploring better nutrition as ways o help.

Maybe one day there will even be a cure for those in the daily fight with this seen or unseen enemy.

“We are called butterflies. We are those that fight and work to remain optimistic. We have earned the name ‘survivor’ and bear our royal color of purple and hold up the ‘L’ sign. We walk, we raise funds, we fight for a cure and lift each other up high, whenever possible,” said one anonymous Lupus survivor.

For additional information about the Lupus Foundation of the American-Mid South Chapter or Matthew Walker Clinic, see these websites: www.mwchc.org or www.lupus.org/midsouth