By Chelsea Pelsone
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!
On September 18, a local massage business, Massage Envy, which has several locations throughout Western New York, will donate $10 from each massage to the Arthritis Foundation to fund research and provide arthritis information and resources in WNY. The cost of a one hour massage is just $39.
“Many people do not realize how their bodies compensate over time in reaction to injury, chronic pain or muscle weakness that gradually changes our gait or posture” said Cynthia Pegado, program manager for the Arthritis Foundation Buffalo-Niagara Office. Massage can loosen muscles and relax joints for greater freedom and range of motion. Painful pressure points are also relieved. This allows the body to position itself in a healthy and natural posture, therefore avoiding the movements and positions developed over time as a reaction to pain.
If that day does not fit into your schedule, you may call to purchase a massage by gift card to use later. Call on Wednesday, pay by credit card, to book a massage on a day that works for you, or purchase gift cards for friends and family members. For those who do not have arthritis, other types of therapeutic massage are available, even pre-natal or sports massages!Chelsea Pelsone is a Youngstown resident and the 2013 Healing Hands for Arthritis Ambassador.