by Niki Wyre
Since I was finally diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis, I was shocked at how little people actually know about what RA entails. I only knew about it because of research I had done when I was looking for what could be wrong with my in previous years, and my research increased after my Uncle’s diagnosis. My own diagnosis quickly followed his. The truth is, I have found more about RA by my own research and talking to my fellow RA Chicks. That is sad. It made me determined to make more people aware of this evil thing we call RA and what it is doing inside of us.
At first I have to admit that I was a bit daunted by the whole awareness concept. I often found myself doubting what difference one person can make. Did I ever expect to reach so many people with RA Chicks? No.. I never imagined it in a million years! I was hoping that if I could just get a few hundred or even a thousand more people to understand RA that didn’t before, I would actually make a difference. You can make a difference. If all almost 5200 Chickies now just made 1 person aware of RA a day, that didn’t know of it before, in one year we would have raised awareness to 1,898,000 people in one year!!! That’s not even counting if those people pass it on as well. See what an impact you can make on the world concerning RA?!
So you might be wondering, “How can I raise awareness for RA?”. The answer might be easier than you think!
1. Social networking- Ahhh… we live in the generation of social networks like Facebook or Myspace. Look at the power we have put together just in our group on FB for RA Chicks: Women with Rheumatoid Arthritis. If you made just one post about RA a week, you could easily reach several people a week and educate them about RA. By changing your status or profile picture to anything from the awareness ribbon to RA Chickie or even a simple “Ask me about my RA”, it opens up some serious discussions. As much as I post about my RA on my personal account on Facebook, for some reason people actually look at pictures more than they read!
2. Open Up- Alot of the times we want to hide our RA. As much as we suffer, we want to be strong for those in our lives. We are afraid of being whiny or misunderstood. In the process, we lose an opportunity for reaching more understanding in our social interactions and raising awareness. By opening up with those regular friends or family members that don’t know, you can overcome some misconceptions like that we are just lazy and spread awareness at the same time.
3. Put on your walking shoes- Organizations like the Arthritis Foundation (arthritis.org) sponsor and run many walks to raise money in support of RA and medical research. They also have programs and classes on coping and more! By participating in the walks and helping to raise money for a cure, you can do your part!
4. Dress it up!- One of the best conversation starters I have had so far and with perfect strangers even, is my RA Chicks wear and bracelets. Quite a few Chickies that have worn their gear out and around have been approached and asked what was RA Chicks, which led to an explanation of Rheumatoid Arthritis as well. It may not seem like a lot, but it adds up! A simple RA awareness ribbon on your jacket, purse, or even keychain can do the same thing!
5. Blog it- A lot of RA sufferers are finding release in blogging online about their truimphs, trials, and set backs with RA. I too find this very therapeutic. By sharing your story online it goes out in the great cyber space and helps reach an audience you may of never reached before!
6. Don’t give up- The most important thing is not to give up. Don’t ever feel ashamed of your RA or let your setbacks fill you with self-doubt. Together we can pretty much do about anything we put our mind to!!
Can you imagine if we could raise awareness by that 1,898,000 a year?! Or more? When I think about it, it truly boggles my mind. If the whole RA community as a whole works together… well we can definitely move some mountains of misconceptions! I ask each of you take a few minutes this week and post something or start a conversation with someone that you might of not before. Just a few minutes or a simple post or picture, and you are helping raise awareness.
Interested in becoming a writer for rachicks.com? We are looking for volunteers to keep the knowledge going to all our members. Interested individuals can email Niki by filling out the form below.