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Everything I have is inflammatory!

I was diagnosed in 2006 with inflammatory breast cancer. This is one which is not detected by mammograms, doesn’t always have a lump, inflames the tissues and lymph, and itches. It grows in days and weeks not years, so is very aggressive. Surgery is delayed until chemo has had a chance to kill it. This is where my immune system jumps in. It went haywire and started in on my joints and spine. I was diagnosed with sero-negative (means labs don’t show it) RA after my chemo was finished. I’m in remission with the cancer, but the RA is now my companion. I tested slightly positive for the rheumatoid factor last year before my back surgery. I also have osteoarthritis, asthma, and irritable bowel. I have heard these could be linked to my RA though they started before my RA symptoms flared up. It could be they are linked to my crazy immune system and chemo pushed it over the edge…who can tell?

I am currently on Humira, diclofenac,Vit D, and low dose prednisone. These have been my life savers and permit me to live more normally. Weather affects me, and I live right in the usual jet stream for storms, so I have good and bad days. Bad days bring brain fog and fatigue…the kind that taking a nap just doesn’t do the trick. I take an occasional Tramadol for the worst days.

I am disabled and had to give up the best nursing job I ever had due to this disease. I am an RN and like to be helpful, useful. This is the worst part of all, is not being able to do what I used to do. I was a potter, with a wheel, making things. I was active and enjoyed hiking camping and exploring. I am trying to find other interesting and creative outlets to counter this frustration. It can be hard just starting a project! I am working on an alternative me in the process, one where I can still enjoy being creative, problem solving me. There are still infinite possibilities.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • Richard Faust moderator
    2 years ago

    Thanks for sharing your story Ruthieq. First, let me say congratulations on the cancer being in remission. Second, sorry to hear about the multiple diagnoses you have had to endure since. Unfortunately, RA and autoimmune conditions in general are prone to comorbidities. This article from our editorial team looks at comorbidities: One you mention specifically is irritable bowel, so wanted to let you know that we have a sister-site for that at

    Fatigue is probably the second most mentioned symptom in the community after only pain. This article from our editorial team looks at this issue, with some tips:

    Finally, I want to say it is good that you have come to a place you can get support and information. Sometimes, with a condition like RA, the emotional takes a back seat to the physical, but it is important. This article from one of our contributors takes look at being mindful of the mental issues:

    Thanks for being part of the community and please keep us posted on how you are doing. Best, Richard ( Team)

  • elisa_comer
    2 years ago

    Rutheiq – I’m new to the community here, so am reading some stories tonight. Your story is quite the read, what a hard road you’ve travelled. So sorry to hear of the inflammatory diagnoses, hope you’re having a good week this week. I have a healthcare background too, and am not working for the first real time in 8 years of this RA/RD disease. It is definitely challenging to try and reinvent yourself and find new ways to cope with and counter the frustration. And a potter’s wheel – that’s amazing. Your story was inspiring, and I just wanted to say thanks for sharing it.

  • Richard Faust moderator
    2 years ago

    Thanks so much for writing Elisa and glad that Ruthieq’s story resonated with you. Also glad you have decided to join our community. You mention coping, so I thought you might be interested in this article from one of our contributors looking at not only coping, but fostering hope with RA:

    Know you are always welcome here anytime for support and information. Wishing you the best. Richard ( Team)

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