Walk to Fight Arthritis could save Islanders miles of travel for treatment

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For more information on how to become involved in the walk or the mascot race, contact Sarah Drew at 902-628-2288 or visit www.walktofightarthritis.ca.

Charlottetown resident Rosie Keough prepares to train for the June 9 Walk to Fight Arthritis.

Participants at the 2013 Walk to Fight Arthritis will walk or run either one or five kilometres Sunday, June 9, in support of the P.E.I. Arthritis Society.

For Charlottetown resident Rosie Keough, these precious steps may save her and the many Islanders living with arthritis thousands of miles behind the wheel of a car.

That’s because all funds raised at the Walk to Fight Arthritis stay on Prince Edward Island in support of advocacy and research.

There are more than 22,000 Islanders living with arthritis and only one rheumatology specialist located on P.E.I. Keough and others with various forms of arthritis often drive off the Island to receive early diagnosis and care. New arthritis patients from P.E.I. are no longer accepted by rheumatologists in Nova Scotia due to wait times.

“I need to see my rheumatologist in Halifax as many as four times a year, so the cost of gas and leaving the Island adds up,” said Keough, who was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis at age 27.

“For some people, the cost to travel may keep them from ever making the trip. The time it takes to be seen and properly diagnosed can greatly affect treatment and lead to further damage, such as deterioration of your joints, loss of mobility.”

Keough hopes the funds and awareness raised at the Arthritis Society’s Walk to Fight Arthritis will someday lead to another rheumatology specialist on P.E.I. — perhaps in Summerside to help share the workload — and keep people from having to go off-Island for care. This would lead to faster diagnosis and treatment of all forms of arthritis.

Some forms of the disorder, like the type Keough battles, can cause significant and irreversible joint damage to fingers, toes and other parts of the body, but early treatment can greatly limit its negative affects.

“When I was diagnosed, I knew very little about arthritis,” Keough said.

“I thought it was just something that happened to older people. I was only 27. It actually took me a year to be properly diagnosed. I’m fortunate to have very few visible signs on the outside, but not many people understand the chronic pain I face every day. It takes a physical toll, but also has such a mental impact. It can lead to depression — you can’t sleep, it hurts to move.”

Keough works hard to find a cure. She’s volunteered at various events for the Arthritis Society for more than a decade, and will be there in support of the Walk to Fight Arthritis at the University of Prince Edward Island outdoor track. Registration begins at noon with the walk starting at 1 p.m. She encourages others to join and help make a difference.

“It’s a great opportunity for families, friends and offices to get together, fundraise and have fun, Keough said. “The kids always enjoy the day, and the track at UPEI is such a great surface if you do happen to have arthritis.”

The walk will feature games for children, face-painting, prizes and a barbecue. For every $100 raised, participants earn one ballot for a pair of tickets anywhere WestJet flies, so the more money raised, the more ballots one can enter to better their odds. There will also be a mascot race. Those who wish to join the mascot race can contact the Arthritis Society.

Organizations: P.E.I. Arthritis Society, University of Prince Edward Island

Geographic location: Prince Edward Island, Charlottetown, Nova Scotia Halifax Summerside

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  • babanne
    May 22, 2013 - 22:57

    I'm a former Islander and now live in the US for many years - I'm in the process of being diagnosed with osteoarthiritis, which is also very painful in my lower back. I also have osteoporosis, which, along with the arthiritis is not pleasant. I'm lucky in the sense that I have any number of Rheumatologist to go to visit. I applaud your walk for Arthiritis - iit really does need funding to continue research to find out just what causes it because it seems every older person has it in one form or another. Good Luck on your Walk.