All posts by Arthritis Today Magazine

Tatum O'Neal Rheumatoid Arthritis

Tatum O’Neal: On Top of Rheumatoid Arthritis and Feeling Lucky

I picked up the phone and heard, “Hi, this is Tatum,” and my vision went black and white for a second. Hearing that raspy voice, I saw Tatum O’Neal, at 8 years old, as Addie Loggins in the 1973 movie, Paper Moon, which was shot in black and white. Tatum, so young, nailed the part and won herself an Oscar.
Continue reading Tatum O’Neal: On Top of Rheumatoid Arthritis and Feeling Lucky

Ana Villafañe Juvenile Arthritis

Ana Villafañe- “JA Doesn’t Define Me”

Ana Villafañe has come a long way since she first belted out the Gloria Estefan song, “Reach” at the Arthritis Foundation’s juvenile arthritis camp, Camp Funrise, in Miami, Fla., at the age of 9. The rising star, now 26, is portraying Estefan in a new Broadway musical, “On Your Feet!” about the legendary singer’s life. If that weren’t enough, she’s also appearing in the summer movie, “Max Steel,” as well as the new Hulu series, “South Beach.”

Her mother, Carmen Villafañe, never anticipated such success when Ana battled her first systemic onset of life-threatening symptoms at age seven. “She had a fever of unknown origin, as high as 106, 107 degrees, consistently, for a month-and-a-half,” she says. “She also contracted secondary issues; her organs were shutting down. Finally, her rheumatologist Dr. Rafael Rivas-Chacon told me, ‘If you ever see a swollen joint, call me immediately.’ The day we were leaving the hospital, Ana said, ‘Mom, look at my knee,” and sure enough, it had blown up. Dr. Rivas-Chacon was back in ten minutes. That’s how she was finally diagnosed.”

Continue reading Ana Villafañe- “JA Doesn’t Define Me”

Psoriatic Arthritis Story Richard Kandalec

Even With Psoriatic Arthritis, Richard Kandalec Always Finds A Way

Psoriatic arthritis has created plenty of challenges for Richard Kandalec, but the 65-year-old has found ways to continue the outdoors activities he loves.

Kandalec was diagnosed with psoriasis in his early 30s. Embarrassed by the red, flaky skin patches, the Mentor, Ohio, resident often wore long sleeves, even in the summer and in the woodworking, welding and industrial arts classes he taught – which was risky because his clothes could catch on the machines.

When Kandalec learned a few years later that he also had psoriatic arthritis, he says, “It was tough.”

Continue reading Even With Psoriatic Arthritis, Richard Kandalec Always Finds A Way

Four People Tell Their Stories of Sharing Osteoarthritis Pain & Relief With Their Dogs

When arthritis is diagnosed in dogs, many owners with OA feel true empathy. They know what it’s like to have achy, stiff joints, so they make it a top priority to ease their pets’ discomfort.

Carol and Abe

When Carol Pierce of Bucks County, Pa., noticed her dog limping last year, she went right to the vet. The diagnosis: knee osteoarthritis (OA).

Carol has OA, too – in her right wrist. She occasionally takes an over-the-counter, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). But Abe gets the prescription NSAID carprofen (Rimadyl) daily. “I’m not one of those people who just sits around thinking about my aches and pains,” Carol says. “But for Abe, he comes first. He can’t talk, so I make sure his pain is taken care of.”

Continue reading Four People Tell Their Stories of Sharing Osteoarthritis Pain & Relief With Their Dogs

Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis Patient Story

Meet Joy Ross- Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis Patient & Champion of Yes

When you’re living with arthritis, it might seem like you’re continually coming up against the things you can no longer do – so many Nos in your life. On top of ongoing pain, stiffness and fatigue, arthritis can create mobility problems that interfere with your career, social life or activities you’re passionate about.

So what can you do to turn that around – to start saying Yes again? What enables some people with chronic illnesses to live full, satisfying lives despite their disease and limitations?

Many factors come into play, and everyone’s situation is unique, but one quality that helps these people is one that anyone can develop – resilience. Experts say that the ability to navigate and even learn from adversity helps you keep going, mentally and physically, no matter what life throws your way.

“Individuals with arthritis and related diseases who find a way to be resilient tend to stick to their treatment plan more often. They manage their health better, and have an easier time dealing with negative situations, too,” says Rochelle Rosian, MD, a rheumatologist at the Cleveland Clinic. “Resilience allows you to make arthritis one part of your life instead of your whole story,” she says.

Continue reading Meet Joy Ross- Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis Patient & Champion of Yes

Osteoarthritis Knee and Hip Replacement Patient Story

New Knee, New Hip, New Start- Melba Moore Overcoming Osteoarthritis

Singer and actress Melba Moore says her pain is gone and now she’s on top of the world.

When Melba Moore recorded her 2013 single, “What Can I Do to Survive,” the iconic singer and actress couldn’t help but think that  it could serve as a theme song for her own life, with the physical and emotional challenges she’s overcome.

With her scale-defying voice and ­incred­­­ible stage presence, few of Melba Moore’s fans realized that, for years as she was performing on Broadway and recording chart-topping songs, she was also battling intense arthritis pain in her left knee and right hip.

“I became an expert at putting up a good front when I was on stage performing,” she says.

Melba established herself as a triple threat in the 1960s and ’70s, and she’s still commanding stages and drawing fans with her singing, dancing and acting. Her first big break came in 1967 when she joined the cast of Hair on Broadway, and was later asked to take the lead role vacated by Diane Keaton. Melba went on to star in the 1970 musical Purlie, which led to her Tony award.

Continue reading New Knee, New Hip, New Start- Melba Moore Overcoming Osteoarthritis

Chronic Fungal Arthritis Patient Story

Best Selling Author, Haywood Smith -Writing Through The Pain

The first thing people notice when meeting best-selling author Haywood Smith is her warm smile and positive energy – which is remarkable considering all that the 63-year-old has been through. For instance, she’s battled chronic pain most of her life.

Haywood has a genetic disorder: Her body produces too many T cells when exposed to yeasts, molds and fungi. As a result, her immune system goes into overdrive, causing an inflammatory response affecting her joints and pituitary system.

It wasn’t until a few years ago that Haywood got a correct diagnosis – chronic fungal arthritis as a result of a T cell receptor defect. Her inflammatory condition has caused joint pain and destruction since she was 12. By age 57, she had endured 26 surgeries, including double-knee and double-hip replacements.

Haywood likens her life to living in a Stephen King novel, which she thought was normal till she started using her experiences in her books. She seems to take life’s adversities in stride, with optimism and wit. Already the author of six successful historical romance novels, she decided after her divorce 11 years ago to never read or write a book that didn’t make her laugh and feel good. So she began writing humorous novels targeting baby boomer women, which won her loyal fans and commercial success. The Red Hat Club (St. Martin’s Press, 2004) made The New York Times best-seller list.

Continue reading Best Selling Author, Haywood Smith -Writing Through The Pain

Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA) Patient Story

A Long Wait for Answers with JIA

“I’ll never forget one night when she was crying in pain and rocking back and forth in her little rocking chair and said, ‘God, why won’t you help me? Mama, please help me!’”

Amanda Vizier, of Jackson, Miss., endured an eight-month nightmare trying to find a correct diagnosis and treatment for her daughter, Chloe, now 8 years old.

On Chloe’s sixth birthday, in 2010, she developed a rash. The doctor said it was probably some virus, and not to worry about it.

Within a couple of days, she started running a fever and we went back to the doctor. Chloe was diagnosed with Rocky Mountain spotted fever and went on antibiotics, but they didn’t help. For more than three weeks she had a fever of 104. She developed abdominal pain, she started limping, her rash was itching and she was screaming in pain. She ended up in the hospital for a few days. Over months of testing, doctors ruled out cancer, lupus and even juvenile arthritis. After all, her joints weren’t swollen.

She was diagnosed with strep throat, then with chronic hives. An allergist asked if she was just anxious.
Continue reading A Long Wait for Answers with JIA

Rheumatoid Arthritis Weight Loss Story

Alicia Arden Shares Journey to Losing 100+ Pounds with Rheumatoid Arthritis

She makes no bones about: Alicia Arden is a diva in spandex. Nearly every day, she stretches on the Lycra and with perfectly coiffed hair leaves work and heads to the gym, where she works out for two hours to ease her rheumatoid arthritis (RA) symptoms and fight for her life, she says.

But she wasn’t always so committed to improving her health. The Warrenton, Va., resident, who also has epilepsy, was severely overweight when she was diagnosed with RA in 2008. Barely able to walk due to the pain in her knees, hips and right shoulder, it took a hard dose of reality from her doctors to motivate her: Lose the weight or slowly die, they told her.

Alicia joined Weight Watchers and shed 50 pounds. Then she gained it back. In 2011 she started aquatic exercise classes. She stuck with it, slowly increased her workouts and hired a personal trainer and nutritionist. “Within one year I lost 102 pounds and I have not stopped,” she says.
Continue reading Alicia Arden Shares Journey to Losing 100+ Pounds with Rheumatoid Arthritis

Seamus Mullen Rheumatoid Arthritis patient

Star Chef Seamus Mullen Sizzles Despite Rheumatoid Arthritis

Award-winning chef, cookbook author, owner of three New York restaurants and overseeing a fourth in London, Seamus Mullen, 40, seems unstoppable. But just a few years ago, he was battling pain from sometimes-debilitating rheumatoid arthritis (RA) – a disease that threatened his career and his future.

When Arthritis Today first talked to Seamus in 2010, he was executive chef and partner of a trendy Spanish restaurant in New York City. It was a cloudy spring afternoon, and Seamus was in the kitchen prepping for the evening rush, facing the task of cutting up a 35-­pound lamb.

He mentioned that his hands were hurting that day – the only hint besides a slight limp that the talented, up-and-­coming chef had been diagnosed with RA a few years earlier. It had been a bolt out of the blue – he has no diagnosed family history of the disease – and had turned his world upside down. But it also fueled his determination to continue doing what he loves.

With the precision and patience of a surgeon, he used two knives, a Japanese meat cleaver and a saw to separate the lamb, gently placing each part – the rack, neck, shoulders, and so on – to the side. By midnight, when the restaurant closed, he had worked 12 hours, though too often he worked 15 or more.
Continue reading Star Chef Seamus Mullen Sizzles Despite Rheumatoid Arthritis