Arthritis Today Magazine: Still Standing Under That Umbrella
Most of those following me are probably aware by now that when I write, I write to make people think. Meaning I’m blunt, honest, and don’t sugar coat the obvious or ugly issues concerning chronic illness. I don’t write to please certain organizations or even followers (though this blog is aimed at helping others through my own experiences and resources, not everyone will agree with my articles or opinions), I write to make people think and to be aware of what people around them are going through. I write to bring attention to a handful of diseases that receive little to no funding, awareness, or proper education and media attention.
I preface this little post with that because I am not happy with the magazine subscription and will not be purchasing it again, and in typical Chronic Curve fashion, I am not going to sugar coat it for you. I’ve hinted here and there about how I don’t particularly enjoy how the AF clumps over 100 diseases together under the umbrella term. I don’t particularly enjoy how money donated may not go towards the disease I have (where it goes, I have no way to know). And while I do very much so appreciate the money raised towards research and their Advocacy Summits, I just cannot accept my serious systemic disease being taken so lightly as the AF so ineptly portrays it.
But most of all, I don’t appreciate the disservice the AF does by referring to Rheumatoid Arthritis (RAD) as simply “Arthritis” here and there in the content of Arthritis Today. Again and again I’ve written about and reiterated how this term has serious power and thus serious consequences. “Arthritis” is associated with wear and tear, and of course, old age. It is not associated with extreme fatigue, hair thinning or loss, rash, organ involvement, low dose chemotherapy medications, IV infusions or biologic medication, secondary conditions, severely increased cardiovascular disease risk, lung disease, vasculitis, higher mortality rates and shorter life spans, on and on and on.
Rheumatoid Arthritis is not an elderly disease. Take note of the 300,000+ children in the United States alone that are suffering.
So I’m skimming through this edition and I’m a bit irritated to begin with, since I’m usually disappointed with the AF’s generalized content, and I come across this first advertisement:
Tell me, do you see the problem here? I’m serious. Take a minute and try to figure it out.
Now tell me again, do you see the problem here? Both Cimzia and Actemra, biologic medications for Rheumatoid Arthritis/RAD, use older men and women in their advertisements. Why don’t we see ads with children hooked up to IV infusions or with splints on their joints? Wouldn’t that raise more interest, awareness, pull on the heart strings a bit? Why don’t we see people in their 20’s and 30’s, even young 40’s in these ads? It’s not a surprise people associate RA with “elderly;” the men in these ads have full heads of gray hair! Obviously this is not the fault of the AF, but it is a part of their magazine and I felt the need to highlight it.
There was also a Simponi (golimumab) injection advertisement with an older woman lying on a dock. To be fair, you don’t get a great look at her face and my guess is that she’s in her 40’s or 50’s, which is why I didn’t post it under my issues with ads tidbit here.
Don’t get me wrong, I think that the money the Arthritis Foundation raises and their work is great, but I think it’s about time that we branch out from underneath that umbrella term. I’m not suggesting we don’t support AF or anything of the sort, but I do believe that we need to support RA on its own and demand changes. Some food for thought:
- Ankylosing Spondylitis, a type of “arthritis,” has a national organization
- Lupus, a type of “arthritis,” has a national organization
- Fibromyalgia, a type of “arthritis,” has a national organization
- Gout, Sjogren’s Syndrome, Psoriatic Arthritis, Still’s Disease…these diseases all are types of ‘arthritis” and have national and international organizations.
Why is RA/D any different? Why is RA/D taken so lightly? Perhaps it’s the name and lack of awareness, as shown by the AF and various pharmaceutical advertisements in magazines and on television. The AF did their job with their magazine— overview-type articles that can apply to any kind of joint disease. But they stay dry under that umbrella, and it’s time Rheumatoid Arthritis sufferers stand in the damn rain and make some noise.
Notice how not a single one of these diseases has the term “arthritis” in the name (with the exception of Psoriatic Arthritis, but again, IT HAS ORGANIZATIONS)
- Rheumatoid Arthritis, a type of “arthritis,” does not have a national organization. We do, though, have a brand new organization, the Rheumatoid Patient Foundation. I urge you to contact them, ask where your donated money is going, and donate to them, support RPF, share RPF with your family and friends, spam it and spread it like crazy.
Now for the actual AF associated content:
- “Rheumatoid Arthritis[…] is an autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system attacks its own joint tissue…” How about instead of “joint tissue” you say joints and organs? or body’s tissue, or something to at least allude to the fact that RA is not just a joint disease?
- Now compare this to their definition of Lupus: “…disease in which the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks its own tissues and organs.” Add “joints” in there and you have the definition of RA/D.
- “Can lead to joint erosion or pain.” Yeah, and fatigue, fevers, and systemic symptoms. Guess you forgot to mention that.
- Their “How Resilient Are You?” quiz was absolutely absurd. “Take this quiz to find out how well you bounce back from life’s setback…” as if rebounding from a seemingly small car accident is comparable to a severe RA/D flare.
What I did like:
- A very thorough three-page explanation and chart comparing different kinds of pain medication, from Asprin to Morphine and their pros/cons/information to be aware of
- Growing Glory, the story of Miss Michigan’s journey to remission with Juvenile Arthritis.
Clearly, I’m dissatisfied with the RA/D-related information in this Arthritis Foundation-associated magazine and will not be renewing my subscription. While I think this magazine is an excellent tool for people with OA and has a few helpful pieces here and there, it doesn’t come close to describing RA/D appropriately or advocating adequately enough.
20 Notes/ Hide
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- avaslittlesecret said: Preach it girl!!! I’m linking this in my Sjogren’s blog, my Facebook page, and my twitter, if that’s okay with you.
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