The Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that there are over 50 million people in the United States diagnosed with arthritis, which is over one-fifth of the general population. Their estimate grows to 67 million, or one-quarter of the general population, by the year 2030. Arthritis is a disease that affects people of all demographics, including 300,000 children affected by chronic auto-immune diseases conditions. The CDC also estimates that roughly one-third of diagnosed cases of arthritis result in some form of limited mobility or disability and costs the US economy $128 billion annually.
As the nation’s leading cause of disability, arthritis causes unacceptable pain and robs one in every five adults and 300,000 children of living life to its fullest. The Arthritis Foundation (http://www.arthritis.org/) leads the way in helping people with arthritis live better today and create better tomorrows through new treatments, better access and, ultimately, cures. We do this by:
- Funding life-changing research that has restored mobility in patients for more than six decades
- Fighting for health care policies that improve the lives of the millions of Americans with arthritis
- Partnering with families to provide empowering programs and information
As the nation’s largest private funder of research, public health programs and advocacy on behalf of the 50 million Americans with this painful disease, the Arthritis Foundation aims to reduce the number of people suffering from arthritis-related physical activity limitations by 20 percent by 2030.
Meet our 2013 honorees
Brenda Serrano – Team Roundup Rodeo
This year’s Juvenile Arthritis honoree, Brenda Serrano, hails from Roundup, Montana. Brenda began her battle with arthritis when she was 15-years old.
While getting ready to help host her hometown rodeo, she began noticing soreness in her feet, which she initially wrote off as being caused by bad shoes. When she awoke the next morning, her hands were three times their normal size and she couldn’t bear any weight on her feet.
Though she was taken to see doctors immediately after her flare-up, it wasn’t until weeks later when they went to see a pediatric rheumatologist in Denver that she was diagnosed with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis (JRA).
Brenda and her family were told that she would likely never be able to play sports or her flute again. It seemed that living a normal life would be difficult, if not impossible. As they left the hospital, Brenda turned to her mom and said “I’m going to have to prove the Doctor wrong.”
She spent the next two years in agonizing pain. The disease emaciated her body and she only had one pair of shoes she could comfortably walk in, but she was determined not to give up. Thanks to the support of friends and family, she pushed herself through her extracurricular activities. In her senior year, she was her varsity basketball team MVP, captain of the varsity volleyball team, and was inducted into her school’s Band Hall of Fame. She had made good on her promise to prove the doctors wrong!
Brenda has now lived with RA for 21 years. Though she lives a life with some limitations, she refuses to let RA define her. Thanks to her physician, two surgeries, effective pain management, modern medicine and her active lifestyle, she continues to Take Control of her arthritis.
In her quest to help others avoid enduring the pain that she has gone through, Brenda has been actively supporting the Arthritis Foundation for several years. She joined our Joints in Motion program and finished her first marathon in 2011. This year she visited Washington, D.C. for our annual Advocacy Summit, speaking to Congressional representatives on behalf of the people in Montana who live with arthritis pain. Now she’s taking on her latest challenge: Riding 370-miles in six-days at The Amgen People’s Coast Classic!
Have you been affected by JRA or know someone who has? Join Brenda on Team Roundup Rodeo today or DONATE to her page and help the Arthritis Foundation improve lives for the 50 million adults and 300,000 children living with arthritis!
Barbara Oswald – Team In Betweenie
Barbara Oswald does not like the word “Can’t”. Her osteoarthritis was the result of being thrown off her horse at the age of 15, shattering her ankle joint. It took nine months for her to get back on her feet and she’s lived with arthritis pain ever since. Though she’s always maintained a very active lifestyle, the pain became hard to ignore by the time she turned 52, which prompted her to Take Control of her arthritis through exercise.
Arthritis isn’t the first thing that has tried to slow Barbara down. Starting life very limited vision in one eye, she’s always had to break down the barriers of perceived limits. Impaired vision didn’t stop her from asking for (and earning) a horse, which was a faithful companion that helped her cope through childhood bullying. The horse saved Barbara’s life in more ways than one. In her early 50’s, her worsening ankle pain compelled her to seek an x-ray and she decided to schedule a mammogram at the same time for the sake of convenience. She was diagnosed with breast cancer, but it was caught early enough to be treated. Since surviving cancer, Barbara has become a triathlete and swam across the Columbia River TWICE with the help of sighted guides.
This last year, Barbara’s doctor told her that her arthritis has reached a point where she will have to give up running. As a result, she’s using cycling as her primary way of staying active. For her 60th birthday, her goal is to finish the 370 miles of The Amgen People’s Coast Classic with Leyton Jump riding as her sighted guide. They have ridden various organized rides together and our six-day ride will be the biggest challenge they have ever taken on.
Barbara’s personal mission is to help encourage those with disabilities to live life to the fullest by staying physically active and engaged in their communities. We’ve chosen her as an honoree because she exemplifies the Arthritis Foundation’s motto: “Take Control. We Can Help.” Do you have osteoarthritis or know someone who does? Join Barbara on Team In Betweenie or DONATE to her personal fundraising page.
Myth No. 1: Arthritis is an old-person’s disease
While the incidence of arthritis is much higher in older populations, there are millions of juveniles and young adults who live with auto-immune versions of arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, lupus, fibromyalgia, etc. CDC estimates show that juvenile arthritis affects one in every 250 children. There are currently no cures for these diseases. Scientists have an insufficient understanding of their causes, genetic or otherwise.
Even in the context of studying older populations, the questions still remain. Why are some people more prone to degenerative forms of arthritis than others? Can joint damage be significantly stopped or reversed?
Myth No. 2: Nothing can be done about arthritis pain
You may think that little can be done to help your arthritis, but this is not true. Some improvement in the pain and loss of function is possible in almost everyone with arthritis. Furthermore, the disease process that may lead to joint destructions can be controlled effectively in most people – particularly those with rheumatoid arthritis. More can be done today to ease the pain of arthritis and to slow joint destruction than ever before.
Many people with serious types of arthritis, which were severely disabling as recently as a generation ago, are now leading full and productive lives, thanks in part to many developments, including new drugs and treatments, exercise programs, surgeries and self-management. As a person with arthritis, your future is full of possibilities that were only a dream 25 years ago.