Why I Walk
I was diagnosed with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis 26 years ago. Thousands of pills, dozens of medications and 10 surgeries later RA has been an inescapable part of my daily life for more than two decades. I became involved with the Arthritis Society’s “Walk to Fight Arthritis” four years ago, helping organize the event in Ottawa. Here’s why I walk.
I walk to connect. It can be isolating living with a chronic disease, and to see that you are part of a larger community facing similar challenges and struggles with their disease and their life reminds you that you are not alone. Connecting with the Ottawa Arthritis community in person gives you a sense of belonging and camaraderie. While I’m part of on-line communities and write a blog about my RA, connecting in person is also important. Listening to others share their stories, struggles and triumphs while forging ahead with their lives reminds me that I can do this and I’m not alone.
I walk to raise awareness. Arthritis comes in over 100 different forms, and is predominantly an invisible illness. There are many stereotypes about those living with Arthritis, and not much awareness of the impact this disease has on daily life. Raising awareness and educating the community are important steps to help those living with Arthritis have access to the programs and assistance they need. The Arthritis Society also provides programs and resources for those living with arthritis, including an online resource portal that is informative, convenient and free.
I walk for a better future. I’ve seen many changes in the medical treatments and advances in technology and techniques for managing this disease over the past 26 years. Many of the medications used when I was first diagnosed have made way for more targeted and disease-specific treatments that we see today. These advances were made possible - in part - through fundraising, research and advocacy by the Arthritis Society.
We have signed up as "Team Graham" with John, Patrick and Chelsea all walking with me again this year. If you are at all able to donate, that would be wonderful. If you are local to Ottawa and want to join us and walk - let me know!