Today is World Arthritis Day 2014. And it’s a weird day for me. Like Kenzie mentions, I never know whether or not I’m celebrating a day like today. It’s not a positive thing, autoimmune/autoinflammatory arthritis.
But by celebrating ourselves and our community, we can shine a light on the strength it takes to live and create a life of love with these diseases. So today I celebrate Britt, who is training to climb Denali despite her Sjogren’s, Rheumatoid Arthritis, and Ankylosing Spondylitis. Today I celebrate Kenzie, who just embarked on a new phase of her life by going to college and kicking ass despite her juvenile arthritis. Today, I celebrate Leslie, who does so much to help young adults and others despite Lupus making that unbelievably difficult. Today, I celebrate Alan, who despite his pain level or circumstances, always has a wise ass remark to share to make others smile. Today I celebrate Aimee, whose emotion and physical endurance reminds the rest of our community to get up and get moving, especially when it’s easier to stay sedentary. Today I celebrate Derek and the Cure Arthritis crew, who work tirelessly to raise awareness and funds for these diseases with integrity; they are not afraid to shine a light on the reality of arthritis. Today, I celebrate Jamie, Michelle, Heather, the 300,000+ kids in the US with juvenile arthritis, and each and every one of you here who fight the same daily battle.
Today, I celebrate myself. Congrats, Emily. Because you’re living again. At one point in time, I wasn’t sure that was possible. What does a fulfilling existence with a disease (or four) this painful and progressive look like? For me, it’s effort, not success. It’s scheduling rest, running trails in the afternoon and using handicapped parking that same morning. It’s not apologizing for my existence. It’s putting people and experiences over pain (which often backfires physically, but pays off emotionally). And that’s awesome.
Creating change requires people like you and me, creating individual change on a small scale every day. It’s the little changes that add up to create a paradigm shift—and we are doing it together.
Here’s to a cure, here’s to research into a cause, here’s to us. Celebrate yourself today!