Columbus Day and World Arthritis Day: Is There a Connection? | Rheumatoid Arthritis Warrior

Columbus Day and World Arthritis Day: Is There a Connection?

Happy World Arthritis Day, Columbus

globeFive hundred seventeen years ago today, a dream came true. Christopher Columbus successfully crossed the Atlantic Ocean, proving that it was possible to sail west from Europe and reach the strange continents of the Western Hemisphere.   The discovery of the New World was the fulfillment of his life-long dream.

Although it took years for the world to understand the achievement of Columbus, his successful voyage was a pivot point in world history. As we celebrate Columbus Day, we are celebrating two things:

1) Dreams Fulfilled: Although his life was full of disappointment, persecution, and delay, Columbus’ belief that he could sail west and reach land never wavered. After six years of appeals to Spanish royalty, interruptions of the country’s wars and financial setbacks, and skepticism of his ability to succeed, Columbus finally left Spain forever, unfunded.  He would appeals to another government until he found support. When Columbus was four miles away, a speeding messenger of the Queen caught up to him to proclaim a Royal change of heart and ultimate support for his mission.

2) Our World Connected: Human history was forever altered that day. Adventurers, politicians, and financiers would soon take advantage of Columbus’ discovery. The change brought about by Columbus was comparable to the arrival of the internet age we have seen in our generation.

How is World Arthritis Day linked to Columbus Day?

The situation we face with arthritic diseases like Rheumatoid Arthritis is eerily similar to that of Columbus in two ways:

1) We have an extreme dream: We dream of a cure in our lifetime.  We face an ocean of unanswered questions about the causes and cures for arthritis and rheumatic diseases like RA, Lupus, Ankylosing Spondylitis, Psoriatic Arthritis, and Sjogren’s Syndrome, etc. We want the world to know the truth.

2) Enduring Frustration: The arthritis movements in our world face obstacles that are comparable to those of Columbus. In our search for a cure for Rheumatoid Arthritis (, we face indifference, skepticism, and lack of resources. Like Columbus, we are certain that our facts are correct: Our symptoms are not imaginary. Our disability is real. We are in grave need of a consciousness-raising in our world.

Like Columbus, Rheumatoid Arthritis has known delays & setbacks

It has only been a few decades that Rheumatoid Arthritis has had a name at all. And it is one which is unclear and misleading. There are not sufficient standards for diagnosis. Remission is improperly defined. Public awareness is appalling. Many doctors do not recognize the disease. And of course, there is no cure yet.

But we are not giving up. The messenger may be only four miles away.

To be continued…

What else does Columbus Day have to do with World Arthritis Day? When I found out the World Arthritis Day was October 12th, I could not believe the coincidence. I can wait one more day, I guess.

Part 2: What kind of Arthritis Did Christopher Columbus Have?

Christopher Columbus, Part 3: How Does Reactive Arthritis Compare to Rheumatoid Arthritis?

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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:/

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One thought on “Columbus Day and World Arthritis Day: Is There a Connection?

  • October 13, 2009 at 10:05 am

    I’m glad to have RA today (I can’t believe I just typed that) and not 50 years ago, or even 20 years ago. There are many options out today for rheumatic diseases as opposed to just a few short years ago. Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful for what has been done, but still our disease is way behind others when it comes to funding, research and public awareness.


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