Mia was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) 22 years ago, a few months after the birth of her son. Initially she thought that the stiffness and joint pain that she was experiencing were due to her new role of being a mom and caring for a newborn; fatigue, lack of sleep and working long 12 hour shifts as an registered nurse. She knew something was wrong when severe pain and swelling in her shoulders prevented her from lifting her son from his crib.
After many doctor appointments, bloodwork, and x-rays the diagnosis of RA was confirmed. Receiving this diagnosis at 30 years of age was hard for her to comprehend and accept. Mia had many questions that were difficult to answer and that still today remain unanswered. There have been days of excruciating pain, swelling, inability to walk, inability to sleep, fatigue and feelings of depression. However, thanks to an extremely loving, understanding and supportive husband, she no longer dwells on the unknown and fear of a future with this disease. “I have accepted that I have RA," said Mia. "It does not have me!”
Mia currently takes oral and injectable medications designed to suppress the episodes of frequent flares, however, the pain and inflammation in her joints is never completely eliminated. There are many days that, just trying to do the activities of daily living, are extremely difficult. She has also incorporated more exercise and physical movement into her weekly routine which has been great for her joints, mind, body and soul.
In true honoree spirit, Mia says, “I have decided not to focus on the possible physical challenges that may lie ahead in my future. Instead, I have decided to join in the fight to find a cure! My hope and prayer is that a cure will be found in my lifetime, and that one day, I and 50 million others like me, will be pain free!"
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Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis
Rachel began to complain of her knees hurting in July of 2016. When her parents noticed that her knees looked very swollen, they took her to see her pediatrician. While at that appointment, her doctor referred her to the University of North Carolina's Children’s Pediatric Rheumatology department, and fortunately got an appointment there within 2 weeks. At that appointment in August 2016, she was tentatively diagnosed with juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA). She received steroid injections in September, which gave her relief, but unfortunately the relief wore off by mid-November. She started receiving weekly injections of a chemotherapy drug in December, and another chemotherapy drug in February of 2017. Currently Rachel is pain free, and she was able to play soccer in the spring of 2017 without restriction! It is her family’s hope that she is in medicated remission. Though her weekly injections are a source of discomfort, she has sailed through this life challenge with determination, grace and a beautiful smile.
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