5 Ways We Can Spread Awareness of Rheumatoid Arthritis | Rheumatoid Arthritis Warrior

5 Ways We Can Spread Awareness of Rheumatoid Arthritis


What is Rheumatoid Arthritis?

“Will people ever understand that the autoimmune disease Rheumatoid Arthritis is not the same thing as Gramma’s arthritis?” I have read numerous remarks recently that sound like this. They say: “Impossible. It is impossible for people without RA to understand what RA actually is.” It can be discouraging.

I understand the exasperation. However, building a bridge between RA and everyone else is one of my most basic goals. However impossible the rift looks, I am not ready to give up.

What can you and I do to improve understanding of Rheumatoid Arthritis in the world? I have 5 ideas. I have done them myself.

5 Ways to tell the world what is Rheumatoid Arthritis

1) Send a message

Email an article now and then that discusses something about your RA. Expect that if someone cares about you, they care to know what is happening to you. Try not sound defensive, but just add to the email: “I could not have said it better myself.”

Of course, you can always print an article if the person does not do email. Say something like this: “I thought this explained ‘blank’ so well, it would be good for you to see. That is just like it is for me.”

2) Speak the truth

Be honest about how you feel physically. I know you do not whine, so I am sure you will not abuse this permission. But you and I have to communicate if we are to see any changes in the status quo. We are the only ones who know what it’s like to have Rheumatoid Arthritis.

3) Introduce RA friends

Expose your loved one to other people who have Rheumatoid Arthritis. If you are lucky enough to have a local RA friend, you can arrange that they are with you when you meet in person. If not, you can send links to some great Rheumatoid Arthritis blogs. You can even print out some of the great comments or discussions.

4) Share medical information

Cancer patients frequently share sed rates and PSA results. People naturally share what’s going on with their health. Yes, it is more difficult with a chronic illness. But actually, we have lots of interesting information to impart. There are not only blood tests and imaging studies, but also rather funky prescriptions. When we come right out and mention our shots, it is difficult to think that Rheumatoid Arthritis is just your Gramma’s arthritis.

5) Ask for help

Don’t pretend you can handle things that you can’t.  We have to tell the truth even when it makes people uncomfortable. If a door is too heavy and no one offers to open it, we have to ask.
I did not say they were easy. But we cannot give up. We are the only celebrity spokespersons that we have. We have to gently inform whoever will listen about the realities of Rheumatoid Arthritis. Can you think of more ways?

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Kelly O'Neill

Kelly O'Neill (formerly Kelly Young) has worked about 12 years as an advocate helping patients to be better informed and have a greater voice in their healthcare. She is the author of the best-selling book Rheumatoid Arthritis Unmasked: 10 Dangers of Rheumatoid Disease. Kelly received national acknowledgement with the 2011 WebMD Health Hero award. She is the president of the Rheumatoid Patient Foundation. Through her writing and speaking, she builds a more accurate awareness of rheumatoid disease (RD) aka rheumatoid arthritis (RA) geared toward the public and medical community; creates ways to empower patients to advocate for improved diagnosis and treatment; and brings recognition and visibility to the RA patient journey. In addition to RA Warrior, she writes periodically for newsletters, magazines, and websites. There are over 60,000 connections of her highly interactive Facebook page. You can also connect with Kelly on Twitter or YouTube, or LinkedIn. She created the hashtag: #rheum. Kelly is a mother of five, longtime home-schooler, NASA enthusiast, and NFL fan. She has lived over fourteen years with unrelenting RD. See also https:/rawarrior.com/kelly-young-press/

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11 thoughts on “5 Ways We Can Spread Awareness of Rheumatoid Arthritis

  • September 29, 2009 at 9:44 am

    Excellent post, RAW! I have run into the same thing… “oh yes, I have arthritis in my little finger, too”

  • September 29, 2009 at 10:08 am

    Good post Kelly. Number 5 has been one of the hardest things for me. If I need help with something that used to be no problem, I feel like the RA is winning.

  • September 29, 2009 at 11:55 am

    I hear it all the time…for the most part, I have given up trying to explain the difference between osteo and RA.

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  • September 29, 2009 at 12:40 pm

    GREAT POST Kelly, i has a sister send me a picture of this guy swinging around a pole after he took tylenol, i said if i could do that i would be in the circus

    • September 29, 2009 at 11:34 pm

      Funny. Come to think of it, even people in the circus probably take something stronger than Tylenol… :laugh:

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  • January 30, 2010 at 11:45 am

    Kelly, I always love your posts. It really helps when I am having a tough time with my RA that week. 2yrs ago I was told I was in remission. Now the last 2yrs it has come back like an angry lover. Especially this last year has been the toughest. I am so tired of the sympathetic looks or concerns. I deal with this pain every day. Some days its so, so, and others, well you know.

    Last Thursday I went to a water aerobic class and I just couldn’t stay for all of it. You should of seen the looks I got. Inside I felt so defeted. But that won’t stop me from comming back.

    Again, thankyou for your blogs, it really does help!

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  • March 13, 2013 at 11:03 pm

    Love the article , my grandchildren know all about RA and are anticipating getting “crooked fingers “, cause we share the same genes. They are a part of me and I think they may be a little disappointed if they don’t get them .

  • June 7, 2016 at 12:31 am

    Thanks, Kelly for caring.


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