Continually building awareness and understanding of rheumatic diseases is critical to both our profession and patient care, according to Kelly Weselman, MD, a rheumatologist in Smyrna, Ga., and a passionate advocate involved in planning the ACR’s annual Rheumatic Disease Awareness Month (RDAM).
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“Unlike cancer patients, whose disease is well known, patients battling a rheumatic disease encounter unique challenges related to educating family and friends and, in some cases, even employers, insurance companies, physicians and others who [may] be less familiar with rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, gout and the 100+ lesser-known rheumatic diseases that fall under the umbrella term of arthritis,” Dr. Weselman says. “Highlighting these rheumatic diseases as a group serves to increase public awareness, which we hope can lead to earlier diagnosis and treatment that can directly impact and ideally lessen a patient’s manifestation and severity of a rheumatic disease.”
September 2017 marks the second-annual RDAM. Sponsored by ACR and Simple Tasks (the ACR’s public awareness campaign), the ultimate aim for RDAM 2017 is to increase public understanding and awareness of the symptoms, risk factors, treatment options, personal and economic impact, and lifestyle and healthcare challenges associated with rheumatic diseases.
Join the Conversation
With the theme, Hundreds of Diseases. One Voice., RDAM 2017 brings together providers, patients and other rheumatic disease advocates to speak with one voice to improve the public’s understanding of rheumatic diseases, and advance the health and wellbeing of millions of Americans living with rheumatic diseases. “This voice is only as strong as each provider talking to their patients about RDAM and each patient with a rheumatic disease spreading awareness of rheumatic diseases within their community,” Dr. Weselman says.
All concerned individuals and organizations, including rheumatologists and rheumatology health professionals, patients, patient organizations, medical professional groups, lawmakers, members of the media, and friends and family members of those affected by rheumatic diseases are encouraged to participate in RDAM 2017.
NFL Hall of Famer Speaks Out
One well-known person who plays an important role in RDAM 2017 is sports commentator and former Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Terry Bradshaw. Mr. Bradshaw lives with rheumatoid arthritis and is speaking out to educate the public with the message, “You don’t have to be an athlete to have sore joints!” Mr. Bradshaw’s message helps call out the common misconception that arthritis is merely the aches and pains of getting older, Dr. Weselman explains. Through a series of public service announcements that are being aired nationally and online throughout the month of September, Mr. Bradshaw also discusses the connection between arthritis and injury, and the importance of seeking early intervention and treatment from a rheumatologist.