JeanMarie – Racing For A Cure

JeanMarie – Racing For A Cure

For JeanMarie, racing competitively wasn’t a focus from a young age, but unfortunately, having arthritis was. When she was eleven she was diagnosed with juvenile arthritis and now, at age 31, she also suffers from Uveitis, which is inflammation in the eye, and Sjogren’s Syndrome, an autoimmune disease that often results in decreased production of tears and saliva.

In an effort to fight back, JeanMarie joined the Arthritis National Research Foundation’s Racing For A Cure Team, a tax deductible charity which she discovered through Facebook, to raise money for arthritis research so she and her peers could help get one step closer to finding a cure for arthritis and similar autoimmune diseases.

When she was only nine, JeanMarie began experiencing symptoms of what was later diagnosed as Lyme disease. However, because she went undiagnosed for a number of years, severe damage had already occurred in her joints and nerves, which was thought to be the catalyst to her arthritic diseases.

Jean's Nails supporting arthritis research

Jean’s Nails saying, “Fight Hard”.

Her daily life can be challenging now and she tries to live just like those who aren’t affected by arthritis, but sometimes even she falls victim to harsh symptoms.

“Some of the hardest moments are when my body won’t match what my heart wants,” she explained. “It’s also very hard to know who to talk to about your health. You want people to understand what you’re going through but don’t want them to judge you solely on your conditions. It’s a delicate balance.”

Although JeanMarie is relatively new to the racing circuit, she has big plans for 2014 and hopes to participate in as many events as she can. Her first race, she admitted, was intimidating because she was afraid of looking slow. However, as she kept her stride, her confidence grew and she forgot about her competition and just focused on herself.

“Once I stopped comparing myself to others, it was a very freeing feeling and I enjoyed the race and now feel amazing each time I finish one,” JeanMarie said. “It doesn’t matter how fast or slow [I run], just that I do it and that I finish.”

Though many racers have training regimens, JeanMarie says it is hard for her to maintain a specific routine because of her ever changing health. She makes a plan for herself each week of what she would like to accomplish then, depending on how she feels and how her body reacts, she makes modifications. But even if she is just meditating and stretching, she is sure to always stay active.

In addition to her racing, JeanMarie sees a rheumatologist and an eye specialist to help with her conditions. She’s tried a variety of different medications, but said she saw the best results when she went completely gluten-free, which she said decreased her inflammation. Consequently, she expressed her excitement about the work ANRF’s scientists are doing, but would like to see more studies done on how diet affects disease.

“Before you know it, a one-mile walk will have turned into a six-mile run,” JeanMarie said regarding autoimmune sufferers who actively race or would like to start. “And never worry about being too slow; you beat everyone else who didn’t get up off the couch that morning. And they are the healthy ones.”

For those like JeanMarie who suffer from arthritis and similar autoimmune diseases, she said the best thing to do is not to compare yourself to anyone else, and allow yourself to be proud of every milestone you reach. And she promises to reach even more milestones as she continues racing for a cure.

To help support arthritis research, join our Racing For A Cure Team! And if you’d like to share your arthritis story, contact KYLE!


Article Author
Arthritis National Research Foundation

The Arthritis National Research Foundation's mission is to provide initial research funding to brilliant, investigative scientists with new ideas to cure arthritis and related autoimmune diseases. There are several ways to support research through the ANRF. Find out more and donate today.

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