Raquel Masco is no stranger to making the most out of a difficult situation. In fact, she’s made an entire career from dusting herself off and getting back on her feet. After leaving an unhealthy relationship to raise her child alone, Raquel decided she would help others in similar situations. She co-founded the nonprofit SingleMothers4Change and has spent the last several years ensuring single moms in her Texas community have the resources they need to build an amazing life.
With her can-do attitude, it’s no surprise that an arthritis diagnosis didn’t keep her down. She’s determined to make the best of her life, even if it means working through the pain and acknowledging her limitations.
“Some days I feel like I’m being held up by a string,” she says. “I work through the pain, but also have learned how to pace myself, and that I am often more effective if I acknowledge my limitations.”
Being Your Best Advocate
At 45, Raquel wasn’t expecting an arthritis diagnosis. But when scans from a car accident last year showed severe joint damage, her doctor knew that Raquel had been living with osteoarthritis (OA) for quite some time. It had been years, and symptoms she experienced – skin changes, inflamed and painful joints and even hair loss – began to make sense. While her diagnosis was scary for Raquel, it was also welcomed.
“For a long time, I visited my doctors in hopes they could figure out why I wasn’t feeling well,” she says. “We did physical exams and ran blood tests, but there was never a concrete answer. Now that I know it’s osteoarthritis, I can try my best to control and manage it properly.”
She’s taken her diagnosis head on, educating herself on how she can best manage her disease. From dietary changes and specific joint exercises to prescription medications and side effects, Raquel is learning how to take control of a disease that often robs her of functionality and mobility. She’s found the Arthritis Foundation a key part of her success.
“When you begin looking for answers, you can feel overwhelmed by the amount of information available online,” she says. “It’s scary. You read about worst case scenarios, and you can often feel hopeless. But the Arthritis Foundation’s website is different, and their online tools empower me. I use their YES tool to find exercises for my specific needs, and the articles and tips in their newsletters and magazine really help guide my treatment.”
Raquel is showing the world that living with OA doesn’t mean you can’t pursue your passions. She’s recently started a new live theater production company and expanded the programs offered at her nonprofit to include victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. Pain and limited mobility make it difficult to work some days, but she knows it’s important to keep moving forward.
“Arthritis doesn’t mean your life is over, but it does mean you have to change the way you do things,” says Raquel. “The Arthritis Foundation has helped me better understand my disease and has been instrumental in making me feel like I can manage my OA and still pursue my dreams of building a stronger community.”
Even if only ONE person struggled with arthritis, it would be worth the fight.
The truth is 54 million Americans struggle with this devastating disease. It can keep you from holding a pen or getting out of bed. It can force you to give up the things you love. It destroys careers, causes financial hardship and sometimes it even kills. Be the ONE who helps end arthritis.