I began experiencing symptoms of autoimmune arthritis in 1984 (while in my teens) but wasn’t officially diagnosed with autoimmune arthritis until 2001. My first diagnosis was Sjogren’s syndrome. Eventually the diagnosis was changed to sero-negative RA and now Polyarticular Spondlyoarthropathy. I also manage thyroid disease (resulting from Graves Disease), fibromyalgia, renin-deficient hypertension, and disseminated superficial actinic porokeratosis (DSAP) on a daily basis. Recently, I was told that I have symptoms of RA. Honestly, my blood work doesn’t show a lot, so it’s hard to know what I have.
I connected with other autoimmune arthritis patients via social media in 2008 and began volunteering with the “Buckle Me UP! Movement”, which evolved into the International Autoimmune Arthritis Movement (IAAM) beginning in 2009. Then became a cofounder of IFAA in 2013. I am passionate about advocacy and awareness and have represented the ACR on Capitol Hill as an Advocate for Arthritis in 2013 and 2016, was a finalist in Wego Health’s Health Activist Hero awards in 2014, and speak at various healthcare conferences as a patient advocate in the Philadelphia area.
Professionally, I hold masters degrees in both Special Education and Speech-Language Pathology. I continue to work full-time as a speech-language pathologist in both a public school setting and as an adjunct faculty member at a university, in Philadelphia, PA. I specializes in both autism and augmentative/alternative communication and took my skills to Uganda, Africa to start a special needs program for disabled children living in an orphanage in 2010.
I am an animal lover and often write about my medically challenged fur babies. I have a sense of humor and have learned that if I don’t laugh about things going with my health that I would be crying all the time. I choose to laugh (sometimes after tears).