Friday, August 4, 2017

Facing Forward: Cathy

Facing Forward is a series that shares the lives of people living with arthritis and other invisible chronic 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!

Name: Cathy
Location: Western Wisconsin
Diagnoses: RA (rheumatoid arthritis)
Age at Diagnoses: 55 years old

How are you currently treating your conditions?
The only medication I'm currently on is a biologic. Lifestyle changes complete my disease management strategy with huge success.  I've created a quick and easy-to-remember acronym, FRESH, to help me stay on top of these lifestyle game changers.  F is for food.  I try for an anti-inflammatory diet, mainly staying away from processed foods.  R is for relaxation or stress reduction.  E is for exercise.  I walk almost every day and have a weekly pilates session.  S is for sleep.  I practice good sleep hygiene.  This has had major professional implications.  H is for hydration.  I divide my weight in pounds in half and the resulting number is how many ounces of water is my daily intake goal!

What are the biggest challenges you have faced since your diagnosis?
1)  I'm needle phobic, therefore giving myself injections.  2)  Accepting the losses from the RA.  Professionally and especially the relationships that didn't survive my diagnosis.

What are your favorite tips and tricks for managing everyday tasks?
Don't aggravate angry joints!  I learned to style stretchy leggings multiple ways!  No zippers, buttons, or snaps to manipulate.  Comfort and ease win the day with RA!

How do you manage to keep facing forward every day?
Intentionally remembering what RA cannot take away.  My hope for the future.  Medical research is at an amazing juncture.  Study of the microbiome is yielding significant clues about RA.  I have a wonderful family to keep on going for.

If you could go back to diagnosis day and tell your past self one thing, what would it be?
I wish I would've appreciated the role stress plays in RA and recognized I wasn't dealing with stressors effectively.  I would've learned stress reduction techniques, such as meditation.

Do you have a blog you would like to share?
Arthritis Wisdom (

Would you like to be featured on Facing Forward? If so, please send an email to 

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