By David Biundo
As children, we are mesmerized by shadows. They are magical incarnations of whatever we want them to be. In some cases they were our playmate, our best friend or even sometimes our scariest enemy. One of my childhood memories of shadows comes from the game my brother and sister would play together. We would darken a room, and then creatively place lights in the room so they would cast our shadows on the wall. We would then get our favorite records, from our favorite groups playing, and then try to make our shadows look like we were a live rock band. Amazing what imaginations did before a Wii remote or Xbox Kinect. As we grow older, shadows tend to play a different role in our lives. They become a metaphor for the trials and tribulations we go through. For some, the shadows that are cast and carried through everyday life represent a burden that is often difficult to overcome. Some of these shadows we cast by ourselves and our reactions to our current situations, while others shadows are placed in our path by society. Both create their own set of opportunities to overcome which sometimes seem impossible.
For those of us who are impacted by rheumatoid disease, there are many shadows cast upon us. Living with these shadows and over coming them is sometimes harder than fighting the disease itself. The shadows that many of us deal with include having our symptoms disbelieved and having our disease trivialized due to misconceptions about what rheumatoid disease really is. The shadows grow longer as misconceptions and misinformation are perpetuated by the media. As patients, many of us are cast in these and other shadows, unsure of how to overcome them, so we remain living with a disease that is destroying our bodies and impacting the way we live our lives everyday.
On February 2nd, the Rheumatoid Patient Foundation will support the first ever Rheumatoid Awareness Day, aimed at helping those with rheumatoid disease come out from behind the shadows that have been cast upon them. It is our goal to not only give patients a place to turn to, but to also educate the public on the facts of what living with this disease entails. It is only through awareness and education, from both patients and health care professionals that we will be able to bring this disease out of the shadows. By doing this we will be able to dedicate more resources, establish better standards for care for all patients and hopefully find a cure.