Lisa Arth

Lisa Arth, Kaptain

Purple Butterflies

Meet Lisa, a West Fargo native currently residing in Bismarck. During the day, she keeps busy as a sales manager for a major radio and media network, but beyond work, Lisa is a dedicated family gal. She describes herself as determined, motivated, positive, ambitious, faithful, thankful, and empathetic. 

Lisa is no stranger to lupus. In addition to living with lupus herself, she has lost two loved ones due to complications of the disease. Her first brush with lupus happened when her father-in-law’s girlfriend, Judy, shared that she suffered from lupus. Lisa reports that she was plagued by many bad days and ended up in the hospital in October 2010; she passed away the following month. 

In January 2012, Lisa herself suffered from what she thought to be the flu. “The symptoms kept getting worse. I was short of breath, losing weight, experiencing chest pains, suffering from purple fingers and toes, and burning sensations in my toes, and feeling exhausted all the time.” Doctors couldn’t explain the symptoms either. At one point, a doctor told Lisa she ought to go on antidepressants. 

Finally, one doctor suspected lupus. After a blood test came back negative, he referred Lisa to Mayo Clinic. Although her blood work at Mayo also came back negative, Lisa’s doctors there told her this was like a smoking gun since she met five of the eleven criteria for lupus. They prescribed nonsteroidal medication and set her up to see a rheumatologist in Bismarck. 

The rheumatologist ran her blood work, and this time, it came back positive for lupus. Lisa’s been on medication ever since, and while she still experiences flares, they pale in comparison to the one that set her health journey in motion.

Not long after her diagnosis, Lisa’s son and daughter-in-law, Haley, announced they were expecting. The pregnancy was difficult due to high blood pressure, getting so bad that she was put on bedrest for the last two months. 

Lisa’s granddaughter was born in January 2013, and shortly after her birth, Haley came down with what she thought was the flu.  Soon it was discovered that her kidneys weren’t functioning. Haley had a biopsy, but passed away three days before the results came back confirming lupus. 

"This has been very hard on the family, but we continue to teach my granddaughter [now four] about lupus so she understands what happened to her Mommy and why Grandma can’t always do things all the time,” says Lisa.

Because of Lisa’s diagnosis -- now officially mixed connective tissue disease, since she also has Sjogren’s Syndrome -- and because of what happened to her loved ones, Lisa and her family are passionate about educating people on the reach of the disease’s impact:

Every time I am not doing well and have a flare up, I can see the worry in my son’s eyes. Will the same happen to my mother as what happened to my wife? He became a single father at the age of 24 and he struggles every day with the loss. My daughter and other granddaughter are very supportive in helping me as much as they can even though they live 90 miles away. My family and I want people to understand that lupus affects not just the person who has it, but it also impacts all family members and friends of people with lupus. 

Perhaps equally important to Lisa, though, is her desire to increase awareness around the potential fatality of lupus:

People just think we’re making things up ... that we don’t feel well or simply don’t want to go out. There are so many people who just don’t understand what can happen to someone who has lupus. It affects everyone differently. People are not educated enough to understand that lupus kills. It attacks organs in our bodies and you never know which organ it will attack or when. I have had two very special people in my life lose their life to this disease and I live with it every day. With this disease, you have to live your best life and enjoy what you have because you are never promised tomorrow.

For these reasons, Lisa formed the “Purple Butterflies,” a serendipitous team name, as she shares: “My granddaughter’s favorite color is purple and I love butterflies. And purple butterflies just happen to be one of the symbols for lupus.” 

Lisa hopes her family’s story encourages others to support the lupus cause. Because at the end of the day, it’s about education and creating greater awareness of the issue. “We need your help to educate people about lupus, even if it’s just one person who walks away from this with a better understanding of how lupus affects people … not just the person living with the disease, but everyone in their family, as well as their friends.”

Thank you, Lisa, for joining us to further the lupus cause! We look forward to seeing you and your team at Central Park in Maple Grove on Saturday, October 14.

Feeling inspired to join us for The Great (Point)8K? Register and create a team today!