The Month Ahead: Fighting the Stigma of RA

  • We have a very exciting month planned for you! In addition to celebrating Juvenile Arthritis Awareness Month, we’re also in the middle of an important initiative that can change stereotypes about RA and other types of chronic illness.


    Have you ever been judged negatively because of your RA or your chronic pain? If so, you’ve been on the receiving end of a stigma. It’s a negative label applied to people because of a particular characteristic, such as a chronic illness. This month, HealthCentral is fighting stigma in a positive way through the #LiveBold anti-stigma photo contest. We encourage everyone to submit a photo of an accomplishment and tell us what makes you proud. Submit your entry before July 11 and please tell everyone you know by sharing on social media, using the hashtag #LiveBold. This contest isn’t just about all of us working together to push back against negative perceptions by showing what our lives are really like. It’s also about giving you the opportunity to win $500! Voting starts on July 15. I’ll tell you more about that In a few weeks.

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    Do you need inspiration to help you think about the story you want to submit? Take a look at our #LiveBold portraits of the RA writer team. Over the past month, we have featured each member of the RA team, telling the story of one of their accomplishments. Brad talked about his work as an RA advocate, Britt shared her journey from not being able to walk up a set of stairs to running a 5K and Marianna shared her love of water and swimming. Vanessa’s story is about how she reclaimed her ability to garden and Leslie told us about being a graduate student with a chronic illness. We still have one more to go – Lisa’s story will be posted next week.


    There are no limits on what you can share – it can be anything that is important to you. Remember that there is no such thing as a small accomplishment. If yours makes you happy and proud, we want to hear about it! For more details on the contest, hop on over to my post on the #LiveBold antistigma photo campaign and check out the other submissions.


    This month, several members of our team are going to write posts about stigma in our culture and their experience with being stigmatized. Leslie will write about the stigma of RA and Vanessa will share her story of experiencing stigma in the workplace.


    Many people in the RA community donate their time to advocating for RA and raising awareness about our disease. These efforts all contribute to fighting stigma. Lisa will talk about a particular way to do this when she posts about writing as advocacy.


    To mark Juvenile Arthritis Awareness Month, both Britt and I will write about our experience as adults living with JA.


    HealthCentral is dedicated to advocating and raising awareness. In the past, we   have worked with two television programs to spread the word about RA and JA. We’d like to again extend our thanks to The Doctors for working with others to inform their viewers about RA and to Dr. Oz for his collaboration in raising awareness about JA.


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    We are also committed to bringing you information about other conditions that may occur simultaneously with RA and other types of inflammatory arthritis. Later this month, Leslie is going to tell us about the connection between lupus and osteonecrosis. As well, Lisa will write about mixed connective tissue disease.


    Having a chronic illness can bring a significant amount of stress into your life and many people with RA identify stress as being a trigger for flares. It’s important for all of us to find ways to de-stress. Swimming, exercising in water, or just plain goofing around in a pool can be terrific ways to deal with stress. Marianna will post tips on swimming comfortably with RA. But it’s not just about water — nature in general can be a balm for the soul. Later this month, Brad will explore the topic of nature as healer.

    We look forward to sharing these stories and others with you throughout this summer months here on the RA website and on our Facebook page. And don’t forget to tell us how you persevere with RA in the #LiveBold photo contest!

Published On: July 01, 2014