one turn and now i’ve learned what it really means to see

Today’s prompt reminds me of one of the questions that we ask student athletes in a feature we, creatively, call “Athletes of the Week.” This question routinely stymies our young respondees, mostly, I think, because it’s so broad. The question? “What is your dream job?”

When I read today’s prompt (if you could do anything as a health activist—money being no object—what would it be?), I imagine I had the same look on my face that I get each week from the high schoolers I interview: bug-eyed, slack-jawed amazement. My mind was a complete blank.

What would I do to benefit the arthritis community, the chronically ill, those with invisible illnesses if money or anything else was no object? Where do I even start? There are the obvious ones—universal healthcare, universal access, ending discrimination, affordable drugs—but is that enough? An affordable cure would render everything else moot, so that seems like a no-brainer.

But how much control to I really have over that? Not much. Which brings me to, perhaps, a more realistic question: What would I do based on the very real limitations that I have? I think raising awareness is huge; when most people think arthritis, what they’re really thinking of is osteoarthritis. Having people know that there are multiple kinds of arthritis—kinds that are nothing like what you’re got in your little finger or what Grandma’s got in her knees—well, that would be a start.

Still, it’s not enough. I think what I’d really like to achieve is the call to action: getting people to care enough to donate money, participate in walks, to write letters to the editor and to their members of Congress. Basically, I want for autoimmune arthritis and psoriasis—hell, all these diseases we all struggle with—is what Susan G. Komen for the Cure has done for breast cancer. I want people to associate the colour blue immediately with arthritis the way they do pink with breast cancer.

Can I do it on my own? No, ma’am. But maybe with all of us working together—joining forces as those with autoimmune diseases instead of each of us focusing solely on our disease—it could happen.


This post was written as part of NHBPM – 30 health posts in 30 days:

3 thoughts on “one turn and now i’ve learned what it really means to see

  1. Like your high school interviewees, Ness, I went slack-jawed and wide-eyed at this particular writing prompt. I have no idea what I’d do, beyond the obvious–find a cure. I opted to blog about something else–me–instead.

    But I do like your answer ever so much. It would be incredible if blue could symbolize autoimmune arthritis the way pink does breast cancer–and raise the sort of money toward a cure that pink does, too. That’s something we could all work for.

  2. I have to admit that I’ve been having the same thoughts all through the month of October – where breast cancer pink is EVERYWHERE. It’s on every product, in every store, on every channel, being talked about by every famous person. And I think that is FANTASTIC for breast cancer – but what I want to know is this: how did they do that? How did they achieve such amazing marketing and awareness? What steps can we take to head in the same direction for auto-immune arthritis? I wish I knew.

    Maybe we need to pick a more noticeable color. Like neon green or something. ~;o)

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