Category Archives: Rheumatoid Arthritis

Alayna Travaglione header

Alayna Travaglione: Her Dreams of Studying Abroad Came True

Studying abroad can be an exciting but nerve-wracking experience. The comfort zones you are so used to back home become non-existent as you make your way through an unknown country meeting new people and immersing yourself into different cultures. For a college student with Rheumatoid Arthritis, there are a few extra challenges I have to face and while doing so, I often question if choosing to travel for a semester was the best option for me. As someone who has Arthritis in all of their joints and still undergoing surgical procedures, the idea of being in an unfamiliar place away from my family and doctors was downright scary. What if my joints got worse or something happened with my medications? What if I decide midway I can’t put my body through this anymore? These questions often swirl around in my head as the activities become difficult or the field trips become too strenuous that I am left lying in bed the next day. When I do ask myself these questions though, I reflect on why I chose to study abroad in the first place. Continue reading Alayna Travaglione: Her Dreams of Studying Abroad Came True

Voices bloggers discuss joy

Voices: How Do You Cultivate Joy?

Gina Mara

Twitter @ginasabres

Gina Mara for VoicesJoy is something that we feel robbed of when dealing with everyday symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and doctor appointments. When I first developed RA, I felt lonely and isolated. I couldn’t do things I used to do that brought me joy, especially during the holidays, like attend parties, drink or even be on my feet for long. Connecting with people on social media expanded my horizons about ways to find joy. Now, I send people positive messages to bring them joy, which also makes me happy. I’ve sent so many of these that now I receive them, too, when I least expect it. I’ve even gotten videos of people from across the country singing happy birthday to me. I am still participating in society, I just do it a little differently than others. I might not be somewhere in person, but when I send some simple words spreading joy, people know they are in my heart and mind.

Joy Ross

Facebook @Through the Eyes of Joy

YouTube @Joy Ross

Joy Ross for VoicesI have always been a joyful person, but my complete loss of eyesight as a result of juvenile arthritis [JA] and my two young daughters’ diagnoses with JA, I have learned that joy is a choice. As a Christian woman of faith, I allowed God to teach me how to truly walk by faith and not by sight or on pure emotions. God began showing me the true meaning of joy even when the circumstances looked hopeless. Every single day I make the choice to begin the day on a joyful note. My story of hope, perseverance and love is changing lives all over the world! If it were not for our challenges and my faith in Jesus, I wouldn’t have this beautiful perspective. I believe when you choose joy, you find strength, hope and purpose.

Lene Andersen

www.theseatedview.com  

Lene Anderson for VoicesGratitude is about slowing down enough to really notice joy, beauty, what’s funny and what’s good. It’s about experiences instead of things and remembering that I am a lucky woman. This is easier during the holidays, when reminders of love and all we have to be thankful for are all around, but I try to practice gratitude every day. Taking note of positive things and talking to positive people help. Going out with my camera to capture the beauty of the world always makes me feel better, and there’s nothing like sitting quietly with a purring cat on my lap to appreciate the present. Life isn’t about perfection or about stuff, but about love. Finding a way to express that – toward others, toward myself – is at the center of how I cultivate gratitude.

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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