A Letter to My Sister: Gratitude for Girl Talk with RA

Patient Expert
Cathy Kramer

Dear Stacey (AKA My Everyday Positive),

While you and I are never shy about our feelings for each other, I want to make 100 percent sure you understand your impact on the success of my rheumatoid arthritis (RA) journey. Your daily dose of positivity brings healing to me in ways no medication can ever compete with. You are a gift like no other.

In 2004, when my RA diagnosis came, I spent a lot of time standing in the shower hyperventilating. My fears were huge. Boosting the panic was a rheumatologist who wasn’t a good match for my needs and I often fought back. I constantly read about alternative cures to heal/cure my RA and you always listened with interest. You didn’t tell me my ideas were wacky. In fact, you asked questions that made me think and dig deeper. You did some of your own research and even tried some of the ideas I shared with you. By supporting me, you gave me the time and confidence to figure out a plan that felt authentic to who I am as an individual in the world of RA.

Looking back over the years, my RA has been an up-and-down journey. There have been years when RA played a minor role in my life and others where I felt embarrassed, even in front of you, when your visits exposed the state I was in. While you always acknowledged my condition, you continued to treat me like your sister. You shared your good and bad days. You let me be a positive influence during your own health issues. You encouraged me to go out with my husband and enjoy time together while you watched my kids and cleaned my refrigerator. I will forever love you for this act of kindness. That refrigerator was about as disgusting as it gets. At the time, I could barely lift my teacup to my mouth and you knew a job like this was more than I could ever accomplish.

For years, you listened through texts or live conversations as I sat in my rheumatologist’s parking lot sobbing over a visit. You went with me when I picked up my first biologic and hugged away the tears I shed before going in to get it. You asked if I was crying because I was afraid of the side effects. I said that wasn’t it. The tears came because deep in my soul I knew this biologic was going to change my life for the better. I am so glad you were here for that RA milestone.

Over the years, as I have worked with both conventional and alternative practitioners to control my autoimmune disease, you have joined me in not only becoming a physically healthier person, but becoming a better person in general. Together, we have made each other better. Somewhere along the way we started our “everyday positives.” Each morning now for years, we have sent each other a text message with two positives from the day before and a goal for the new day. Through this shared activity, we have become more deeply connected and I believe our outlook on life has greatly improved.

Your gift to me has always been your ability to know when to listen and when to be the person to chime in and be angry or upset with me. You don’t try to solve my issues — you are just there for me to be what I need you to be at the time. This has been such an amazingly unique gift.

As we enter a new year, I can’t wait to see what the two of us have in store for our lives. Whatever it is, I know it will be one that we share together. That is what we do. We support each other no matter what. We make each other better.

I love you. You will forever be my everyday positive.

Love,

Cathy

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“For my 50th birthday, Stacey made two trips from Kansas to Illinois to help me celebrate.” -Cathy