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It’s a common misconception that only older people get diagnosed with arthritis.
Eileen is a prime example as she was diagnosed with double arthritis in her twenties – rheumatoid and osteoarthritis arthritis.
Now just 30-years-old, Eileen experiences pain and crippling fatigue on a day-to-day basis. As a result, she has lost the ability to work, and trying to raise her child alone has been one of the biggest challenges of her life.
Today, Arthritis affects more than 4.6 million Canadians and 650,000 British Columbians. And shockingly, up to 60% of people living with the condition are between the ages 15 and 65.
But there is something positive that you can do to help. And that’s by joining ‘Walk to Fight Arthritis‘. Taking place in Vancouver and a number of other regions across BC on June 4, the event is organized by The Arthritis Society to raise funds and help improve treatments for the disease and research for a cure.
Daily Hive interviewed Eileen to hear her story and why the walk is so important to her.
Eileen cites the side-effects of arthritis medication as unpleasant and tiring. But in light of this, she found solace in raising awareness about the disease through social media.
“I shared what I was going through on social media, and I became an Ambassador for The Arthritis Society after people started noticing my writing and photos. The biggest compliment I ever received and by many all over the world, was that they found me to be an inspiration to take better care of themselves, to treat others differently. People also shared that until they heard about arthritis through my journey, they really didn’t know about it.
“This, in turn, inspired me to believe in myself and kept me going, and also made me hungry for other ways that I could help others. And the best part, was that I could do it just by being myself and being open, and I could promote something meaningful.”
Despite her illness, Eileen battles on to help her son and also those suffering with the condition.
“I am doing what I am doing to show my young son that illness and a disease like arthritis isn’t going to stop his mom. I am doing it to be a voice for those suffering with arthritis and to show that not all diseases and disabilities are seen by the eye. In many cases, arthritis is invisible.”
“My late grandmother and aunt were both severely affected by the monster arthritis, and I never knew their suffering until I too became a person living with the disease. I do not have them to turn to for advice, but I want to share what I can with others to honour their memory.”
Eileen wants to go back to school and further her education – fortunately, there may be a way she can do that through a scholarship.
“I am hoping to earn a scholarship from UCBeyond that is awarded to only five Canadians per year – to students who demonstrate academic ambitions and embrace a way of life that goes above and beyond the boundaries of living with inflammatory arthritis. I hope to find something to do to get off disability and have a steady income to support my son and I while making a difference in the world and to those suffering.”
Through darkness caused by her arthritis, Eileen has found light. She will be walking on June 4 and wants you to join her team, or donate online.
“Arthritis may have turned my life upside down, but I am sharing my journey and am walking in the Walk to Fight Arthritis on June 4, because I understand the importance of raising awareness and funds for The Arthritis Society and the research they support. More research will make a difference in the lives of people living with this monster of a disease. Join me in the walk by registering for my team, Chronic Eileen.”
When: June 4, 10 am
Where: 1 Athletes Way
Price: $25 – Register or donate online
Daily Hive is a proud media sponsor of the The Walk to Fight Arthritis