PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — It was getting people’s attention: the water in the fountain at Love Park in Center City Philadelphia was purple Tuesday — the color of lupus awareness — as Philadelphia threw its support behind World Lupus Day.

“We are trying to paint the town purple so that everybody understands that this is about lupus,” says Cheri Perron of East Oak Lane, who was diagnosed with the autoimmune disease in 1994, when she was 36.

“I couldn’t lift my head off the pillow. It was difficult to walk, pain throughout my entire body, low grade temperatures, just achy, just general not feeling well at all,” she recalls.

Did she know right away what it was?

“I did not know what it was, and that’s part of the problem with lupus. I went to probably five different doctors who could not figure out what it was. I was told that I had leukemia, I was told I had scleroderma, I was told I had mental issues.”

Organizers of the event say lupus is under-recognized as a global health problem. Approximately 40,000 people in the Philadelphia tri-state region are affected by lupus.

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Reported by John McDevitt, KYW Newsradio 1060

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