As a person who suffers from autoimmune diseases, I sometimes feel as if people put my conditions on the back burner and make them seem less important.
You often hear about cancer walks or runs for various conditions, but when I try to raise awareness about arthritis or lupus people are less likely to respond. They think that unless it’s called “cancer” it must not be severe.
The problem is that having an autoimmune disease is a life sentence that can’t always be managed. The diseases not only cause sometimes irreparable damage, but the physical pain and agony that comes with them makes life difficult.
I feel as though I have to constantly prove myself and show people that awareness about the disease is necessary. Just because it’s misunderstood or there is no big uproar about finding a cure doesn’t make it any less important.
I believe that all ailments are important and that people should care even if it doesn’t currently affect them. You never know if someone in your family may one day be diagnosed with something. If they were, you would want to know that everything is being done to find a cure or treatment that will give them some form of relief.
Aside from that, almost every disease or form of cancer shares a common symptom: Pain.
And at the end of the day, we’re all fighting for a common cause: Relief.
If only one person suffers from a condition, that doesn’t make their diagnosis any less important than mine. We’re both dealing with something that affects our way of living and may possibly shorten our life span. So if I’m willing to walk or march to raise money for my cause, I should also be willing to do the same for theirs.
Now, that’s coming from a person who is in poor health. What’s stopping you from joining the cause?
I personally believe in the saying “out of sight, out of mind.” If we’re not directly affected by something, usually we don’t care to be bothered by it. People have no problem sending well wishes or saying something encouraging, but when they’re asked for a little bit more they come up with every excuse in the book.
I remember making pins for Lupus Awareness Month and handing them out to everyone at work last year. I asked them to wear it all month long, but after a day or two I hardly saw anyone with the ribbon. I was so hurt because it wasn’t like I sold them — I gave them away. It wasn’t like it was a hassle to put it on or it looked ridiculous, it was a small ribbon on a safety pin.
People are so caught up in themselves that they’re unwilling to give others any of their time or effort.
I know that not everyone thinks or feels the way I do, but shouldn’t we all want a disease free world so that everyone has the opportunity to live a long and prosperous life?
I spend half my time at doctors’ appointments or the hospital, and another ten percent recovering from my treatments. That’s time away from my husband and kids. I feel robbed and I’m going to continue to do everything in my power to spread the word about the need to find a cure for what I have as well as show my support for others.
Maybe this year my forum will be bigger and more people will join me in my cause.
Arlene Grau lives in Lakewood, California with her family. She suffers from rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, lupus, migraine, vasculitis, and Sjogren’s disease.
The information in this column is not intended to be considered as professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Only your doctor can do that! It is for informational purposes only and represent the author’s personal experiences and opinions alone. It does not inherently or expressly reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of National Pain Report or Microcast Media.