World Arthritis Day 2014
When I first learned that October 12th is World Arthritis Day, I have to admit that I initially felt a bit confused. My immediate reaction was this: why on earth is there a day that celebrates arthritis? Arthritis isn’t something I want to celebrate!
However, as I learned more, I began to understand that the real purpose behind having a day set aside for arthritis is to promote awareness and acceptance for those of us living every day with this horrible disease. Because there are still so many myths and misconceptions surrounding life with arthritis, particularly when it comes to autoimmune versions of arthritis like rheumatoid arthritis or juvenile arthritis.
For example, although many people who hear the world “arthritis” picture grandma’s gnarled hands or grandpa walking with a cane, arthritis is not actually a disease of old age. The truth is that arthritis can affect anyone at any age. I was diagnosed at the age of 25 and there are more than 300,000 children growing up with arthritis in the United States alone. In fact, 65% of people with arthritis are actually younger than 65.
Living with arthritis can have a massive impact on a person’s daily life. In the United States, arthritis is the nation’s leading cause of disability, affecting one in five adults. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a quarter of adults with arthritis report severe daily pain and almost half report that arthritis limits their ability to participate in daily activities. In fact, arthritis is a more frequent cause of limiting life activities than heart disease, cancer, or diabetes.
Although many different options exist for treating arthritis, and more treatments are being researched and developed, there is currently no cure for any type of arthritis. Which means that those of us with arthritis may be living with it for the rest of our lives. This is exactly why events like World Arthritis Day are so important. Promoting awareness helps increase acceptance for those of us living with arthritis and, with more acceptance, we can also get more help and support.
I also have found that working to promote awareness about arthritis has brought me some personal benefits. In learning the real facts about arthritis I have also learned about personal reserves of strength I didn’t even know I had. In sharing my own story I have connected with other wonderful people living with arthritis and found support. And in educating others about the realities of life with arthritis I hope that I have helped make the world a better place for everyone living with arthritis. And honestly? I think that is something worth celebrating!
Join me! Be proud and wear blue on October 12th in honor of World Arthritis Day. Tell others about your life with arthritis. Help correct the misconceptions and set the myths straight. And celebrate your own ability to keep moving forward despite what life throws at you!
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