Twila McKay Smith, a wife, author and Lupus care giver, was the guest speaker at the Kiwanis Club of Clermont on July 18, 2017. She began her presentation by saying “It feels so good to share my story because I get to speak. I am like EF Hutton when I speak everyone listens because I speak so softly.”
Twila was born in Topeka, KS and was the eldest of six children. She met her husband Thomas Smith Jr. in 1955 while he was stationed at Forbes AFB, in Topeka and they married in 1957. While Thom served in the military, they lived in many states such as Kansas, New Mexico, California, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania and in the countries of the Philippines (twice) and Spain. She has lived in Florida since 1999. She informed us that her husband developed Lupus at age 21 but it was not correctly diagnosed no matter where he was stationed. In 1999 his dermatologist referred him to a Rheumatologist because his blood work showed that he had Lupus. Twila described Systemic Lupus as a chronic, autoimmune disease that can damage any part of your body (skin, joints, and/or organs inside the body). This means that the signs and symptoms tend to last longer than six weeks, and often for many years. She also said that a person suffering from Lupus does not know when the symptoms will strike or how long they will last. Her husband was originally treated with Chemotherapy, Prednisone and Plaquinil and after approximately 4 months his condition improved. Throughout his illness he has always been able to work and provide for his family. Twila said that she and her husband formed a support group for residents in Clermont with Lupus and led it for ten years. They gave it up in 2009 and currently there is a Lupus support group in Winter Park/Orlando. During her husband’s illness, Twila said that her faith in God and her unbreakable bond with her husband helped her through one of the most difficult periods of her life. She said she loves to write, and the Lord inspired her to write “Lupus the Wolf.” It tells of their trials and travels through our military life and how the Lord was with them through all their illnesses.
At the completion of her presentation, President Janet Hoskinson presented her with a commemorative Club Pin and thanked her for sharing her story.