Niagara Gazette — At age 17, I was diagnosed with a severe autoimmune disease, Rheumatoid Arthritis.
RA destroys joints and tissues, and attacks organs of the body — the heart, eyes, lungs, liver. This disease changed my life completely. Extreme pain and swelling plagued my hands and feet. Writing in class became difficult and I could no longer be an athlete. Even after the diagnosis, the disease spread during my first year of college causing pain in my knees, hips, elbows, neck, shoulders, even the joints in my chest. I had to transfer to a different college, close to home in Niagara County.
The Arthritis Foundation was a constant source of help, providing me with the information I needed to learn about this unexpected change in my health. In appreciation of the tremendous help I received, I raised $11,000 for the Arthritis Foundation. I am also actively serving as a youth advocate, attending Congressional meetings in Washington D.C. to improve legislation on arthritis issues and speak out for the people of Western New York with arthritis.
Unfortunately, there is no cure. Yet. Imagining life without pain is still just a dream for me.
But the Arthritis Foundation is working to change that, and awarded a $100,000 Innovative Research grant to a SUNY Buffalo researcher.
I am 20 years old now and will continue doing what I can to help fight arthritis, for myself and others. As the Healing Hands for Arthritis Ambassador, I invite you to help others while enjoying a treat for yourself. The Arthritis Foundation has partnered with Massage Envy Spas to host a one‐day national event on Wednesday called Healing Hands for Arthritis.
For anyone who suffers from arthritis pain, the Arthritis Foundation endorses massage therapy as a way to alleviate arthritis discomfort. It can improve flexibility, hand grip strength, circulation and reduce stress and anxiety. If you would like to try a massage, you can while doing a good deed!