World Arthritis Day (WAD): Supporting the patient's voice for people living with Rheumatoid Arthritis

World Arthritis Day (WAD) – observed annually on October 12 – provides an opportunity for all of us to come together and show our support and our commitment to making a positive difference for people living with this chronic and disabling disease.??

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic inflammatory and erosive disease that affects the joints, leading to pain, stiffness, swelling, reduced physical functioning, work productivity and impaired quality of life.?It can affect people of all ages, but it most commonly develops between the ages of 40 and 60.?

For us at Galapagos, WAD marks a day of reflection, support and partnership, to ensure we continue to live our ambition to be pioneering for patients.?By bringing patients closer to us and listening to them, we can help people living with RA to overcome daily limitations to lead longer, healthier and more fulfilling lives.?

Today, we share Ghislaine’s journey from diagnosis to understanding how to live a life with RA. Read her inspiring story below.

Meet Ghislaine

I was carefree and never imagined I could be diagnosed with an autoimmune condition, such as RA. As a young girl studying Art, I was constantly tired and experienced sore and swollen knees. I ignored the symptoms, thinking it would go away in a few days, however it became persistent. When I finally went to the hospital, I was admitted in the geriatric services, which is when I’d had enough and realized something was not right. After further investigation, I was found to be diagnosed with RA. I was only 21 and had no idea what RA was. I didn’t even know anyone who had it.

Ghislaine enjoys painting, despite living with RA

One moment I was a carefree girl studying art and the next moment, I couldn’t imagine what the future would hold for me. The constant pain and swelling were difficult to manage and so I had to move from my two-floor apartment to a one level house, I had to quit my job because of different surgeries and make many more adjustments in my life. However, I’ve always looked at the bright side of life, and so one day I decided to do everything I can to lead a normal and full life, despite the challenges of living with RA.

Today, I have learnt to manage my RA and the pain associated with it much better. I take my treatment regularly, go to physical therapy, joined support groups and practice meditation and breathing exercises. I am also engaged in my national RA organization – the National Association for Defense against Rheumatoid Arthritis (ANDAR), which offers excellent support to people living with RA.

The future looks promising, and I am coping well with RA today. It’s because I have learnt to focus on things outside of my illness. Life is much more meaningful as I get to spend time doing things I truly enjoy, like painting and spending quality time with my friends and family.

My advice for those living with rheumatoid arthritis is to be kind to yourself and your body. Don’t let limitations define who you are and what you do because there is a way to live a happy life with RA.