Saturday, November 28, 2009

I'll get implants if only I can keep my joints please!

Today I saw one of those public service announcements on t.v. It featured an actress I like, the doc that plays Cameron on the tv. show House, so I sat up to take notice. However, I soon dismissed the ad once I saw the headline; it read "250,000 New Cases will pop up this year...Breast Cancer."

I'm sorry. I don't mean to sound heartless, but aren't there already 1 million of us ALREADY diagnosed with RA in this country? Don't we live with it every day, each month and each year with NO prospect of a cure? Don't breast cancer patients stumble upon remissions daily, while only 1% with RA will EVER see remission, never mind stay there?

I didn't used to think this way. I never considered that MY illness was in direct competition with anyone else's illness. That is...until someone close to me was diagnosed with stage four Breast Cancer and I realized I was jealous of HER. Yes, jealous. Soon, her future will be clear. She will either have a life or she won't. My own future becomes more fuzzy each day. Even my doctors cannot predict at this point which functions I will lose and when. I take it as a bad sign when the doctors start offering pain medicine rather than treatments, noticing that they will gladly offer whatever relief they can since they can no longer expect I can find effective treatment.

Am I the only one who feels so miserable? Have any of you ever had the, "I wish I had THAT disease INSTEAD syndrome?"

Or is it just me?


  1. It's not just you...I'm jealous of the overwhelming outpouring of support and understanding people with breast cancer (or bone cancer or diabetes or .....) get when they announce their diagnosis. I never got that. Sometimes I just want to scream "you only have 2 nipples, but you have hundreds of joints dammit!!!!"

  2. OMG - That is too funny - 2 nipples! Thanks for making me laugh tonight!!!!!!!!!

    -RA SB

  3. Ah, yes, I used to think about that. Thinking how (my relatively mild) RA has no cure and no option for surgery to take it out, and how I envied people who did have things that could be 'taken out'.

    Then I got cancer.

    It's not that much better ;)

  4. Poor Tanja. Thank you for your honesty! I really love seeing it! Forgive us our petty envy. I think it is just sometimes the years of it dragging on and on that make me bitter. Oh, and the fact that mine is certainly not mild. But you are right - there is a certain human connection we all share. Whether it is RA fatigue that keeps you from playing with your 3 year old or chemo fatigue, it all sucks!!!! Keep us posted on you.

    -RA SB

  5. No problem. :)
    I had stomach-cancer (runs in the family) and had to have my stomach removed (half of the family has had it done). It ads some interesting challenges to life, since I can't eat normal portions and can't eat all food anymore and have frequent vitamin deficiencies (mainly D, which I heard could have something to do with RA, making it worse and such).
    I've had family-members tell me, years ago, they'd rather trade their cancer for my RA. Guess we mostly see the 'good' stuff about the other condition ;)
    Most of my family have a hard time, for a year or so, and then things stabilise. They haven't yet for me and probably won't, which makes me envy everyone who has something bad but is stable. But I'll just stick to what I have now, don't need more stuff, hehehe :)

  6. This is interesting for me because I have RA and a heart condition. And if I have to tell people about my illness or explain why I can't do something, I almost always take the "easy" route and tell them about my heart.

    Everybody's heard of heart defects, everybody finds them scary, and nobody will question me. If I say, "I can't do that because I have RA and it would hurt too much," the person usually either looks at me blankly, or else refuses to take me seriously.

  7. I do think that is a huge element of our frustration Helen. Everyone has HEARD of Cancer, and knows what it can do. Although I had a friend that actually ran up against some rude jerks when she had cancer. She did not have to have chemo for hers, so they called it "fancer" for fake-cancer. She was so hurt. I think that is the whole point. All of us just want some understanding about the obstacles we face, and want recognition that no we are not whining, we are actually moving forward in a very positive manner. I will be praying for all my SB friends and commenters tonight. We all need a gentle monday!

    -RA SB

  8. That we do, SB. I think this comes down to the old saw "The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence." While I do sometimes wish my family would be more compassionate and understanding about my rheuma, I don't really want them falling all over themselves being overly solicitous, either. Mainly this is an issue of education, since RA is a truly painful and often disabling disease.

    I wish none of us had to get any of these diseases: RA, heart disease, cancer, diabetes...

  9. You're right, SB and Wren. This is primarily an issue of education. I don't want sympathy; I don't want people to think I'm dying. But I do wish people understood that RA is a serious illness.

    SB, how hurtful for your friend with cancer. My mother went through breast cancer six years ago, and it puts an enormous strain on individuals and their families.

    As Wren says, I wish none of us had any of thesei llnesses.

  10. That's what gets me, too.

    No one has ever heard of my condition. I try to describe it to them and they shrug it off, because they can't imagine what it would be like to live in a body where EVERYTHING is too fragile (it's a collagen defect, and collagen makes up something like 70% of the body that isn't water).

    If I had cancer, at least people would understand. If it was cancer, people wouldn't think of me as an excuse instead of a person, they'd think of me as someone fighting for her life. Somehow that's much more acceptable than this condition that leaves me with a variable amount of ability to do things every day.

    As for the illness itself...I've sometimes wished that what I had could be treated, fixed, repaired, removed...anything.

    But it can't. All they can do is brace the bits I've broken, and attempt to treat the pain.