Jennifer Carmen first knew something was wrong in July 1999, after her family moved from Los Angeles to Paola.
She couldn't shake a fever and had a rash on her face. She never felt rested, even after getting plenty of sleep.
Her doctor diagnosed her with lupus, a disease she'd scarcely heard of.
"Not a lot of people talk about it," the Kansas University junior said. "Most of my friends don't even know that I have this."
That may change after Wednesday, when one of Carmen's friends has scheduled a benefit concert to raise money to support her and to raise money for lupus research.
The concert, which begins at 9 p.m. at EightOneFive, 815 N.H., features seven local bands. Admission is $5, with proceeds going to the Lupus Foundation of America, a nonprofit organization that supports lupus patients and lupus research.
According to the foundation, about 1.5 million Americans have lupus, a chronic, noncontagious disease that causes the immune system to attack the body's own tissue, including the joints, kidneys, lungs, brain, blood or skin. It is more common among women than men, and more common among blacks, Asians and American Indians.
There is no cure for lupus, and researchers aren't sure of the exact cause.
That led Rachel Balzer, a KU junior from Whitewater, to organize the Lupus Awareness Benefit Concert. She didn't know that Carmen, her friend of three years, had lupus until Carmen's symptoms became so severe last semester she had to drop out of school.
"I was one of those people that didn't know much about lupus," Balzer said. "I wanted to encourage my friend, and not only support her, but the research that's going on, too."
Carmen is still recovering from last semester's "flare-up." She's still tired, and her joints ache.
She said she was overwhelmed by her friend's support.
"I'm deeply touched," she said. "I'm surprised and awed that she's doing this."
|The Lupus Awareness Benefit Concert, which will raise money for the Lupus Foundation of America, is from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. Wednesday at EightOneFive, 815 N.H.Bands scheduled to perform are Mylin Brimm, Mr. Bilistic, XDash, 3 AM, OnJaLee, Kirsten Ensz and Via Rooftops. Admission is $5.|