An elderly lady places her hand on her husband's shoulder.

Mother Sees Hope for Cure

Rheumatoid arthritis patient Elizabeth Edwards with her family.At just 26 years old, Elizabeth Edwards struggled to walk because of pain in her feet. Then, the pain started spreading. She went to see a doctor and was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. Shortly after, Elizabeth saw a rheumatologist who not only helped her start feeling better, but also gave the young mother hope for her future and the future of her family.

Elizabeth says the pain in her feet lasted about two months before it got progressively worse. “My knees started to ache and swell, and I noticed the joints in my hands were also starting to become inflamed,” she explains. At first, Elizabeth thought it was just stress. Then, she began to suspect that it might be something worse. “Rheumatoid arthritis runs in my family,” she says. “My aunt was diagnosed when she was 40 years old. I did not think it was as serious as it ended up being, but knowing it was a possibility, I decided to make a doctor’s appointment.” After a series of tests, Elizabeth received her final diagnosis of RA.

Elizabeth says it was difficult at first, especially since she had just gotten married, moved into a new house, started a new job and was trying to start a family. She says, “Getting this diagnosis made my future seem uncertain. Not knowing how difficult and painful every day was going to be was extremely disheartening, especially with all the new and exciting things that were supposed to be happening in my life.” However, seeing her aunt struggle with the disease when the only treatments available were steroids and NSAIDs, Elizabeth knew it was critical that she go to a rheumatologist almost immediately. So, she went to see Leslie Crofford, MD, while she was at University of Kentucky’s hospital. “Once I started my treatment, I began to see relief and, essentially, a light at the end of the tunnel.”

Dr. Crofford provided Elizabeth with more than relief from her disease. “She is a past president of the Rheumatology Research Foundation,” Elizabeth explains. “She was the one who explained to me the importance of research for this disease.” She says donating to the organization gives her hope that in her lifetime there will be a cure for the disease.

“Now that I am a mom to a two-year-old boy and pregnant with a daughter on the way, it is painful to think that they might also have this disease one day. It is my hope that if they are ever diagnosed with RA that they will have even more treatment options to control the disease, or better yet, a cure. It’s the best thing I can do to protect them.”

Click here to learn about Foundation-funded research that could help people like Elizabeth, who have a family history of arthritis.


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