By Dana Symons
The Rheumatoid Patient Foundation has just announced the establishment of the first ever awareness day for rheumatoid arthritis (click here to read the press release), to help bring education and awareness of this often misunderstood disease to the public. Rheumatoid Awareness Day will be held each year on February 2nd. Yes, that’s also Groundhog Day. So, why did we choose this day? Well, there are a few reasons…
It’s a Matter of the Heart
The month of February is designated as Heart Disease Awareness month, which touches on one of the most serious aspects of rheumatoid disease: its effect on the cardiovascular system. We want to inform the world that this is not merely a joint disease and move away from the characterizations about it being focused on the hands. We also believe focusing on the heart and other organs will improve advocacy and research efforts.
The Groundhog & His Shadow
Every year on February 2, the groundhog comes out of his hole to see if he can see his shadow. It’s the moment of truth: if he sees his shadow, then tradition says that there will be six more weeks of winter. But if he does not see his shadow, then spring is right around the corner. This moment of coming out of the hole can be compared to rheumatoid disease onset – there’s no real way to predict which path the disease will take, how long it will be until it’s diagnosed, or what treatments will work. You might as well ask the groundhog! The six weeks of time that the groundhog is predicting corresponds to the short window of opportunity for patients with rheumatoid disease to get early diagnosis and treatment. There’s also a sense of bringing rheumatoid disease out of the “hole” or out of the “shadows” as we bring the truth of the disease into the light for the public to see.
Let’s Not Forget the Movie
Of course, we can’t talk about Groundhog Day without mentioning the movie. The first time Bill Murray (Phil) wakes up to a repeating day is like the first time someone wakes up with symptoms of rheumatoid disease. It’s that moment where you go “What is THIS? WHAT is going ON?” Living the same repeated day over and over again is not an unusual feeling for somebody with rheumatoid disease who wakes up each day to the same chronic symptoms.
A Day of Astronomical Significance
Quite literally. February 2nd is what is known in astronomy as a cross quarter day – meaning that it is midway between a solstice and an equinox – in this case, midway between winter and spring. Winter may still be here, but the hope of spring is approaching. We are not out of the cold yet, but the RPF seeks to bring awareness to rheumatoid disease, to bring us into sunnier days, blossoming through education and understanding.
As Rheumatoid Awareness Day approaches, help spread us spread the word! Click here for a list of ways that you can get involved and help the RPF raise awareness for Rheumatoid Disease.