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