My Story

Life With Rheumatoid Arthritis

Early Years

In 1979, at the age of two I was diagnosed  with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis (JRA), A disease that is now known as Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis.  This diagnosis changed the trajectory of my life and the life of my parents. Doctors offices, medication, cortisone injections and physiotherapy became a regular part of my world.

By age 8 the JRA had spread to 85% of my joints and had also appeared in my eyes which later lead to temporary legal blindness at age 11. 
At age 10 the joints in my hands, elbows, toes and feet had permanently fused, despite surgical attempts to stop the process. 

At age 14 I underwent ophthalmic surgery to remove the lenses in my eyes which, with the aid of glasses, allowed me to see clearly. 

My joints continued to deviate inward. These deviations and fusions restricted my mobility and made normal childhood activities difficult and often impossible. In nine short years JRA took my once agile body and perfect vision and changed it to that of someone decades my senior.

Despite my restrictions my Mom instilled the belief that I was  a regular child who needed to find inventive ways to accomplish what I wanted. I believed at a young age that I was given JRA for a reason. 

 After I graduated both high school and college, I began to chase my dreams and stand proudly in my truth.

Present Day

After 41 years of living with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis I was told that I was in REMISSION. The result of four years of treatment with the biologic drug, Humira and a disease modifying anti-rheumatic drug (DMARD) Methotrexate. These two drugs, along with the anti inflammatory Celebrex,  allow me to live with minimal pain, zero morning stiffness, and minimal swelling in affected areas.

I continue to monitor the health of my eyes with my ophthalmologist. Although damage that occurred in my eyes as a child can not be reversed, I am confident with the treatment presently being used to maintain the sight I have.

in 2017 I posted a video to YouTube which launched my channel "R.A. Raw." Through this medium I hope to share knowledge and spark hope for those with rheumatoid arthritis. I truly understand the helpless feeling patients often feel and intend to provide hope that it does get better.  Furthermore, by providing a candid look at my life and through story sharing, knowledge of Rheumatoid Arthritis will be gained by the viewer not afflicted with the disease.

In the future I plan to tour and share my story with audiences, I am developing a podcast and dream of writing a children's book focused on a child with JRA. All of these things keep me excited for the future!

In Person Speaking


Looking for a speaker to share an inspiring story of courage, hope, and gratitude? 

Using my life as an example, I demonstrate how everyone can live a life of abundance and gratitude while living in pain. I will help your group discover their inner warrior and show them how to maintain that mindset.  

My presentation is flexible, interactive and suitable for a wide range of audiences. MThe presentation can be given via Skype, Zoom or other online meeting platforms as well as in person.  

Call or email for inquiries: (587) 872-5454

R.A. Raw Merch

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