(BPT) – When faced with struggles, people often turn to others for support, comfort and guidance. There is great value in knowing you’re not alone especially for patients with chronic diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA). RA is a chronic, inflammatory form of arthritis in which the immune system attacks the body’s own tissues, causing fluid buildup in the joints and pain and inflammation throughout the body.
Because many of its symptoms are also associated with various other illnesses, RA is a somewhat silent disease. As patients battle this sometimes misunderstood illness, they must face each day with courage and strength while experiencing fatigue, pain and sometimes disability.
Finding support can be key to dealing with the complexity and unpredictability of RA, but despite the fact that approximately 1.3 million adults in the United States have RA, many patients are searching for a way to share their story and inspire others with the condition.
To meet the need, RA health advocates have teamed up to create an animated video series, called “RAise Your Voice.” The videos, found on RheumatoidArthritis.com, feature patients, physicians and advocacy partners sharing their own experiences to encourage others, inspire patients and shed light on the disease. The videos also inform those who know or care for RA patients, but may not understand the full impact of the disease.
Tess DeMarco, a participant in one of the videos, has lived with RA for more than 35 years. Despite her doctor’s predictions, DeMarco became a ballroom dancer at 21 and, to this day, she refuses to let the disease control her. “Having people to lean on throughout this process makes all the difference,” she says. “My family helped me every step of the way.” DeMarco, now a mother of three and grandmother of two, feels strongly about using her own experience to help others cope with the disease.
Seth Ginsberg, president and co-founder of CreakyJoints, an advocacy group and one of the most popular online arthritis communities in the world, also lends his voice to the video series. “In order to be able to manage this disease, you have to be educated about it and you must consult your doctor,” he says.
In the first video, Ginsberg and DeMarco team up with other “RA veterans” to speak out about the disease, share their stories and encourage others to do the same.
To see Ginsberg, DeMarco and other “RA Veterans” in the first video as well as others in the series and to learn more about RA, visit RheumatoidArthritis.com.