PURPLE is the colour to raise awareness of lupus and Sandra Trusty is urging Swindon people to pop - put on purple - for St Thomas Lupus Trust after the disease affected her sister.

Anne Marie Douglas was first diagnosed with the condition, which causes the immune system to become overactive and instead of producing the right amount of antibodies to fight bacteria and viruses it produces too many, when she was 17.

This hyperactivity results in a variety of symptoms including fatigue, rashes, allergies, depression and kidney failure.

"When she was younger she used to get these headaches, and it happened a lot when she was outside," said Sandra.

"They used to think she was trying to skive from PE lessons and it was only when she was diagnosed when she was 17 that she knew it was lupus.

"At the time she was studying a childcare course, and because it was lupus it meant she had to give that up.

"It had a huge impact on her life, she had water on her lungs and she's had to have medication, and it caused havoc with her moods too.

"Over the years they have managed to find the right medication and she has gotten used to it, bt it still has a huge impact on her life.

"Fortunately she now hasn't been hospitalised because of it for seven years.

Now, Sandra and Anne Marie are using their online gift business Fab Events & Occasions to tell people about the signs and symptoms to look out for during Lupus Awareness Month.

"It's very difficult to diagnose and can take years for doctors to diagnose it for what it is," said Sandra. "It's a hidden illness.

"It’s referred to as the disease with 1,000 faces, because its symptoms are similar to so many other things. It affects all ages and both sexes but the group most likely to be affected is females between the ages of 18 and 45.

"Now we have the business we just want to do what we can to raise awareness of it.

"So many people might have it and not be aware that they have it."

If you want to POP for lupus, post a picture of yourself on social media wearing purple and nominate friends and family to join in.

An easy and pocket friendly way to POP is with a lupus awareness wristband is also available online from www.lupus.org.uk/shop/

Alternatively you can text FEOL77 followed by the amount you wish to donate to: 70070.