Facing Forward is a series that shares the lives of people living with arthritis and other invisible illnesses. The goal of the series is to see how we are similar and how we are different – and to remind us to keep moving forward because we aren’t alone!
This special edition of Facing Forward shares the stories of the individuals involved in the Arthritis Foundation’s 15th Annual California Coast Classic – a 525 mile bike ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles.
Name: Dan (Team: The Deviants)
Hometown: Pasadena, CA
Diagnosis: osteoarthritis, right knee
Age at Diagnosis: 59
Why is it important to you to participate in the California Coast Classic?
I’ve ridden in the California Coast Classic (CCC) for 12 years and cannot imagine not doing it. This is my first year riding with the diagnosis of arthritis myself. I joined the Pacific Region Board of the Arthritis Foundation two years ago, and have been on the CCC leadership team for six years. My focus is on finding and nurturing our relationship with corporate in-kind sponsors like Dole and Coffee Bean.
What are the biggest challenges you have faced since your diagnosis?
My challenges since diagnosis are to protect my knee. No running or other impact sports, avoiding stairs.
How has your diagnosis made it more difficult for you to stay active?
My arthritis has made it more difficult to stay active. I love golf but cannot play back to back these days. I love hiking but need to minimize it. I love running and tennis but can’t do them anymore. I need to avoid stairs – up or down – because of the extra stress on the knee joint.
What are some of your favorite tips and tricks for staying active with arthritis?
Staying active for me means biking and short walks. I can swim too.
How do you manage to keep facing forward every day?
I still need to work and earn a living to support my family. I still want to be able to ride my bike and take an occasional walk or hike. I would like to do Mt. Whitney again with my son.
If you could go back to diagnosis day and tell your past self one thing, what would it be?
If I had to talk to my past self I would not have done as much running on hard surfaces nor as much train running, although those runs – Pier-to-Peak in Santa Barbara, Mt. Baldy, and the Badwater half-marathon were memorable. I played hockey and tennis in my teen years but I really think it was the miles of running in my 30s, 40s, and 50s that contributed to my condition.