Sandra’s Story  

Sandra has always been extremely active. When she was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, she found a way to overcome her pain and continue her lifestyle. 

Sandra grew up as a very active child – running, bicycling, swimming, snow skiing, etc. As an adult, she has remained active by participating in 5Ks, 10Ks, half marathons, biathlons and many other recreational activities. In her early 40s, she began experiencing some pain and difficulties with her arms and hands. Sandra went to the emergency room twice for this, but they could not determine the cause. Over the course of the next five years, several inexplicable pains and difficulties with dexterity occurred, such as drying her hair or buttoning clothing. Her symptoms had grown worse during the last six months of 2009, but she did not understand what was causing her symptoms.  

  At work, a coworker noticed a very strange red bump on the back of each of Sandra’s hands. She thought that it was unusual but did not see it as anything significant. That night, she fell asleep with no problem but was awakened with a horrible stabbing pain in the middle of each hand. The pain was so bad that she could find no relief. That morning, she found an orthopedic hand specialist who could see her. She checked her hands thoroughly but could find no cause for this pain. She asked Sandra to have some blood tests to rule out rheumatoid arthritis (RA).  Less than a week later, the doctor called her to tell her she did have RA.  

  As soon as she received her diagnosis, she began to research. She found some very useful articles that were published by the Arthritis Foundation.  She called the Atlanta office and spoke with a very nice woman who told her that they could provide her with helpful information. The woman offered to send it to her or suggested Sandra could come by to pick it up. Sandra chose to come pick up the material. It was at this time she learned about the Arthritis Foundation’s Walk to Cure Arthritis. She has been involved in the event each year since, and she says it gives her a feeling of strength rather than being a victim of this awful, debilitating illness.  

  By the time that Sandra began seeing her rheumatologist, within a few months of her initial diagnosis, she began taking prednisone. The negative effects of this steroid outweighed the positive effects. Sandra was then put on a chemotherapy pill, seven pills once per week, which has helped. The following year, she started receiving infusions of a biologic every month. She is now receiving these infusions every other month. Sandra is currently living life with little pain and continues a very active lifestyle. In September 2016, she and her husband hiked the Grand Canyon and the Narrows at Zion National Park and kayaked at Lake Powell.