Thriving With Rheumatoid Arthritis | Carmen Inspires Daughters
Carmen Showing How She’s Thriving With Rheumatoid Arthritis
In just five years, the destruction of Carmen’s arthritis has been substantial. Recent X-rays revealed joint damage in her hands and lower back and her shoulders no longer have their full range of motion. With profound fatigue she finds it hard to muster up the energy to go out with her friends at times, but after years of experimenting with medications, she has found a combination that controls the bulk of her pain while limiting the harmful side effects.
However, according to her, Carmen’s greatest struggle isn’t the physical pain she experiences, but rather the emotional ramifications of her disease. She feels angry and upset when she can’t do the most basic of tasks, such as open a water bottle, pick up a cup of coffee or prepare for work.
“RA is so much more than just painful joints,” revealed Carmen. “My hardest battle is against my emotions.”
Carmen refuses to give into the temptation to dwell on the negatives in her life, and attributes her positive attitude to the unyielding support of her two daughters, who also serve as her greatest source of motivation. Her favorite photo (pictured at the top of this story) is one in which her daughters are cheering her on at a race, a scene that epitomizes their relationship – Carmen is as their hero, and her daughters as her most ardent supporters. She folds up the picture and carries it with her during her marathons to draw strength from it, reminding herself that she is not competing for herself, but rather to show her daughters what it means to be thriving with rheumatoid arthritis.
Carmen’s Instagram account (@lilcarmen73) became her main platform for sharing her struggles and triumphs while running and living with arthritis. What started as a mission to inspire her daughters turned into a source of encouragement to numerous people in the arthritis community. When arthritis patients began reaching out to telling her to run a few miles in their honor because they couldn’t, she finally realized the magnitude of what her running accomplishments truly meant.
Carmen enjoys the camaraderie she finds while racing with the Arthritis National Research Foundation’s Racing For A Cure team. In October, she plans to meet up with her teammates at the Long Beach Marathon’s 5K event to compete with the team members that have encouraged her every step of the way. Additionally, she has eight races marked on her calendar for fall, ranging from 5Ks and half marathons to trail races and triathlons.
“I always wear my Cure Arthritis bracelet when I do races and long training runs,” said Carmen. “The bracelet reminds me that being able to run is a gift, and also that I have so many people out there cheering me on.”
Carmen is inspiring her daughters today, showing them how to be courageous in the face of a serious diagnosis. No matter what the future holds for Carmen’s family, it’s safe to say that their champion isn’t planning to stop spreading hope and awareness anytime soon.
“In the past, I never realized the impact that I could have on the lives of others through my running. Being able to run despite having arthritis is a gift that I refuse to waste. To anyone out there in need of support, don’t give up. You never know what tomorrow will bring.”
Who inspires you to keep thriving with rheumatoid arthritis or in the face of your arthritis diagnosis? Tell us about YOUR support team in the comments below!
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