I always knew about arthritis, my late grandmother and aunt struggled in front of me with it my whole life. But I never really understood my grandmother’s need for double knee replacement surgery or my aunt’s true reason for her wheelchair until I shared something in common with them, far earlier in life than I expected.

I was a 29 year old single mother with a two year old to provide for, I was stunned but at the same time not surprised given my family history with arthritis, I was shocked to find I could get it so young, I wasn't even 30 yet. 

April 8th 2015 I walked out of my Rheumatologist's office, a stranger I just met that bared the difficult task of informing me of my life altering diagnosis of incurable autoimmune disease seropositive Rheumatoid Arthritis. The same week of my diagnosis my aunt passed away, before I could ask her what I was in for, I was terrified, lost and alone. I saw what this disease did to her. What was it going to do to me now?

My diagnosis put a stop in my decade long beloved career as an esthetician, placing me on the list of Canada's #1 cause of long term disability at 29. The list doesn't stop there, according to the CDC the #1 cause of long term disability in North America is Arthritis. An estimated 350 million people worldwide live a form of the umbrella term arthritis. 

However...

 

Through my struggles with pain I found my voice and my purpose. I found myself. Arthritis is my villain and my blessing in disguise.

Five years after my diagnosis, countless medications and treatments, educating myself on arthritis, hours of exercise, dropping a significant amount of weight and coming to a place of acceptance I am managing life with chronic illness a lot better than day one.  I might still be sick but....

If I am going to be the sick girl, I might as well kick ass at it.

My passionate for creating awareness about arthritis and patient advocacy started in late 2016 when I became an ambassador for The Arthritis Society and created this blog. Since then I have been published in Reader’s Digest Canada and Inked Magazine, featured on various health websites and am a current writer for Creaky Joints. In addition, Everyday Health and Healthline have recognized Chronic Eileen as one of the top arthritis blogs to follow. Advocacy helps me move forward with a purpose to inspire others with arthritis to feel less alone through their struggles with arthritis.

In September 2018 I joined Arthritis Research Canada's Arthritis Patient Advisory Board (APAB) which is comprised of volunteer advocates with arthritis who bring personal experience and arthritis knowledge to research decision making at Arthritis Research Canada. Together we share the goal to ensure the patient perspective is represented on research matters related to prevention, treatment and self-management of arthritis. APAB partners in research to create a future where research-based services, tools and knowledge empower people living with arthritis to triumph over pain and disability.

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‘If I Can Get COVID-19 and Survive, You Can Too’: A Health Care Worker with Rheumatoid Arthritis Speaks Out - Creaky Joints

April 7, 2020

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