Tell us a little about yourself and your family -- where you're from, what you do, what your interests are, etc. * I’m from Mukwonago, Wisconsin. I have 2 brothers and 1 sister. I have 2 dogs, a yorkie named Vinny and a golden retriever named Brandon. I’m a senior in high school and shift manager at Domino’s. I love to paint, read, and write.
What was your first symptom? Swelling in my feet and in my fingers
When were you diagnosed with RA/Rheumatoid Disease? I was diagnosed when I was 18 months old
What is the biggest way rheumatoid disease has affected your life? Rheumatoid has made being active and engaged really hard for me. Along with other bone and joint problems, rheumatoid makes it hard to do things like, take my dog for a walk, or stand up for periods of time.
What has been your experience with treatments for rheumatoid disease? I’ve had two aspiration and injections in my right knee, and have been on anti inflammatory medication.
What do you want the public to know about rheumatoid disease? Just because it isn’t visible to you, doesn’t mean it’s not there. Rheumatoid takes a lot out of a person. I’ve had people tell me that my disease is fake and that I’m just trying to get attention, but it is very real and very hard to deal with.
How have you worked to overcome challenges presented by rheumatoid disease? Staying in the right mindset, and not letting rheumatoid hold me back from doing things I want to do. Perseverance is number one. Pushing past your rheumatoid and learning to tame it, you can do anything.
What have you learned through living with rheumatoid disease? Being strong and powerful. Not letting the disease take over me as a person. Fighting it, knowing I am stronger than the rheumatoid.
What encouragement or advice would you give to someone who is newly diagnosed? Don’t let it hold you back. It’s going to be hard, but as you learn to cope with it, you’ll learn to be strong . Be more powerful than your disease.