Category Archives: Rheumatoid Arthritis

liz morasso patient story

Liz Morasso: Support Networks Helped Her Adjust to a New Life

As part of our vetting process for Arthritis by the Numbers – a collection of verified arthritis facts and figures – we invited patients to comment on the disease section that most affected their lives. After all, they are the experts on how the disease changes and challenges everyday living.

Meet Liz Morasso, a licensed clinical social worker at UCLA’s department of radiation oncology who has volunteered for the Arthritis Foundation since 2002. That’s when, at age 16, she was diagnosed with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Over the years, she has immersed herself in leadership roles with the Foundation and speaks nationwide to inspire patients living with chronic illness.

Following, in her own words, is Liz’s story about living with these conditions and how the statistics she reviewed in Arthritis by the Numbers relate to her personally. Continue reading Liz Morasso: Support Networks Helped Her Adjust to a New Life

eileen schneider patient story

Patient Partner’s Words of Wisdom About Living With RA

As part of our vetting process for Arthritis by the Numbers – a collection of verified arthritis facts and figures – we invited patients to comment on the disease section that most affected their lives. After all, they are the experts on how the disease changes and challenges everyday living.

Meet Eileen Schneider, who is a registered nurse and has a passion for patient advocacy. Following, in her own words, is her story about living with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and how the statistics she reviewed in Arthritis by the Numbers relate to her personally.

Continue reading Patient Partner’s Words of Wisdom About Living With RA

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.

Continue reading Voices: Have You Ever Hidden Your Arthritis?

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.

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

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.

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

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.

Continue reading Double Take: Twins with RA Fight It Together

arthritis foundation autoshow

Getting Rid of Arthur, the Uninvited Guest

When Kevin Gadd was born, roughly 51 years ago, an unexpected and unwelcomed guest joined his family.

“My mom was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) in her hands just after I was born,” explained Kevin. “We called it Arthur, like Arthur-itis. We were always mad at Arthur because he brought pain to my mom and made it difficult for her to do the things she loved. Arthur was a bad dude.”

Continue reading Getting Rid of Arthur, the Uninvited Guest

volkenburg brothers arthritis foundation fundraising

Brothers Battle Gigantic Duck and 5 Foot Waves in Record Setting Swim Across Lake Erie

They said they were going to do it and, by golly, they did it – in record time!

Earlier this year, brothers Tom and Greg Van Volkenburg decided they were going to swim across Lake Erie, a distance of 24.3 miles, in honor of their mom, Debbie, who has battled rheumatoid arthritis (RA) for most of her life.

Continue reading Brothers Battle Gigantic Duck and 5 Foot Waves in Record Setting Swim Across Lake Erie

volkenburg brothers arthritis foundation fundraising

Brothers to Swim Across Lake Erie in Honor of their Mother and to Support the Arthritis Community

Competitive swimming is a difficult sport. Athletes spend hours every day going back and forth in a pool with their heads mostly under water honing their skills and techniques hoping to shave tenths of a second off their times.

Continue reading Brothers to Swim Across Lake Erie in Honor of their Mother and to Support the Arthritis Community