bloggers arthritis communication

Voices: Have You Ever Hidden Your Arthritis?

Three influencers explain why they are outspoken about their rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

Thérèse HumphreyThérèse Humphrey

@TerezHumphrey; TerezFreemanHumphrey

Diagnosed in 1986, I kept my RA to myself because no one understood. There weren’t any treatments to stop the progression, and my doctor told me I could end up in a wheelchair. I was scared, and I wasn’t sure myself what was going on, so why burden others? Maybe if I didn’t talk about it, it would just go away.

Keeping it to myself only made me feel more isolated. In 2011, I started using social media to find others with RA. It is there I found my voice. By talking about the reality of living with RA, I finally felt validated, and more importantly, I was giving others – especially the newly diagnosed – encouragement and hope. It took me a long time to realize that being open to others is vital to teaching them the reality and impact of RA. Today, I am a passionate patient advocate and want to educate everyone who’s willing to care and listen about RA.

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sharae mansfield

Benched by RA, Pro Hoops Player ShaRae Mansfield Still Shoots to Win

ShaRae Mansfield vividly remembers getting the call 17 years ago saying the Houston Comets had drafted her to play in the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA). For the Western Kentucky University (WKU) student, the chance to play professional basketball was a dream come true.

But her WNBA career was short-lived. While she had mad skills on the court, excelling at both points and rebounds, she also had frequent pain in her shoulders, hips and especially her left knee, made worse by a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). ShaRae had undergone six surgeries on it, but her continued knee problems led the Comets to release her before she completed even her first season.

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rheumatoid arthritis patient stories

Life Doesn’t Stop with RA: How Three People Keep Doing What They Love

Mark Rucker: “Adopt a healthier lifestyle”

mark ruckerWhen Mark Rucker was diagnosed in 2015 with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) at 44, he had mixed emotions. He was glad to know what had been causing the often unbearable pain in his hands, feet, jaw and toes for the past year. But, he recalls, “I always thought RA was a disease that only affected elderly women, not someone who was in the midst of training for their second Ironman competition.”

A real estate attorney in Lexington, Kentucky, Mark in the past had been a self-described “385-pound couch potato.” Being told in 2011 that he was too big to ride on the rollercoaster with his kids spurred him to change his lifestyle. He traded in sugary sodas for water, cut processed sugar and added fruits and vegetables to his diet, and began to walk a mile each day during his lunch hour. He lost 135 pounds, and those lifestyle changes led him in 2013 to complete his first Ironman – a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride and a 26.2-mile marathon.

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meg maley dating arthritis

Dating with Arthritis: Reality Couple Get ‘Real’ About What Works

Reality-star couple and Arthritis Foundation fundraisers Meg Maley, CBS’ “Big Brother” Season 17 houseguest and person with psoriatic arthritis (PsA), and Mike Holloway, winner of CBS’ “Survivor” Season 30, share the real deal of their experience dating with arthritis as the third wheel.

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charcandrick west jia

Every Catch Deserves a Touchdown Dance

Charcandrick West, professional football player with Louisiana roots, gets real about what keeps him going, how no hurdle is too high and why he likes to win on and off the field.

Q1: When did you realize you wanted to play football professionally?

I don’t remember the first moment I grasped a football, but the second I did, probably around age 6, I was hooked. I still remember being a kid, looking up from the field and seeing my mom and dad cheer me on. It was a thrill to know I was making people in the stands happy by giving the game my all.

I knew that I had the “it” factor – and my parents believed in me, too, which made all the difference in the world. My goal was to leave my legacy in my hometown of Cullen, Louisiana, and graduate to the “bigs.”

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Double Take: Twins with RA Fight It Together

Identical twins Annamarie and Ginamarie Russo share many qualities: They look and sound alike, they love acting and traveling – and both have rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

For almost two decades, RA was one thing the twins, 31, did not share. Ginamarie was diagnosed with juvenile RA (now called juvenile idiopathic arth­ritis) when she was 12; Annamarie was diagnosed 18 years later, at age 30.

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walk to cure arthritis 2018

Spotlight on Kenley Huss: Walk to Cure Arthritis National Youth Honoree

Kenley Huss and her family are superstars in the fight against arthritis, holding nothing back in their personal quest to conquer it.

The Huss family first came face to face with the disease in 2010 when Kenley, then just over a year old, was diagnosed with oligoarticular juvenile arthritis (JA). It wreaked havoc on her knees and several other joints, as well as caused unexplained fevers and pain that no toddler should experience.

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anna legassie walk to cure arthritis

Anna Legassie: Still in the Race

The doctor’s prognosis was gloomy. “You should put your daughter in a wheelchair now, so she can adapt to being disabled,” he told Anna Legassie’s mother. Anna, 11 at the time, had just been diagnosed with systemic juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (SJRA, known today as systemic juvenile idiopathic arthritis).

Now 34, Anna recalls those words often. Like on that hot summer day in 2015 when she crossed the finish line of her first Spartan Race, a grueling five-mile dash that involved climbing walls, crawling through mud and overcoming other obstacles. A fitting metaphor for a woman who hasn’t let the challenges of arthritis stop her from living a full life.

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