Denise Cormier says she is a walking example of how research has helped people living with arthritis. And just one of many such examples.
Cormier was diagnosed with arthritis 28 years ago, at the age of 30. She said she has rheumatoid and osteoarthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis, Cormier said, is an autoimmune disorder while osteoarthritis affects the bones and joints.
Cormier is the local co-ordinator for the Parksville Walk to Fight Arthritis, which takes place this year on Sunday, June 4 in Parksville Community Park.
Cormier said the majority of money raised through the annual walks goes to research for arthritis. Without the research, she said, there wouldn’t be medications such as biologics, which help to treat rheumatoid arthritis.
Ten years ago Cormier was bedridden, but since then she’s started taking the biologic medication which she said has given her “the opportunity to have a seemingly normal life again.”
Cormier said in the early days after being diagnosed with arthritis, she didn’t try medications. But since then, she said, she’s realized that both medication and movement is needed to help with the pain of arthritis.
Cormier said arthritis comes down to more than just mobility issues.
“It’s the fatigue, it’s the pain,” she said. “You push yourself, so you go out and enjoy yourself at a dance or a walk… other people might hurt a little bit the next day — everybody does — it may take less and impact us (people with arthritis) longer.”
Being diagnosed with arthritis as a young mom, Cormier said, affected her whole family.
She recalled one time when she and her children decided it would be a good day to go for a walk. She said Derek, one of her six children, asked her a question that to this day still breaks her heart.
“We decided this day, we could go for a walk,” said Cormier of the arthritis that had hospitalized her at times. “So the other three get their coats and shoes on and he (Derek) reached up, and he said, ‘Mom, is it a hand day?’ And what that meant in my family was could he touch me? Could he hold my hand when we walked?”
Now, with the help of medication and aquafit classes Cormier has been taking for years at Ravensong Aquatic Centre, she said she is able to do activities with her grandchildren that she maybe wasn’t always able to do with her own children.
While the arthritis did impact her family, Cormier said, that family provides a lot of support. Her oldest daughter will be walking with her in Parksville while her youngest son, Jayden, is helping to organize the Victoria walk.
Jayden is based out of Victoria as a sergeant with the 5th (B.C.) Field Regiment, Royal Canadian Artillery. He said growing up with a mom who was diagnosed with arthritis, he started to see how that affected the family.
It was in high school, Jayden said, that he really started to see how much of an impact arthritis had on Cormier’s mobility and strength.
Beyond his family connection to arthritis, Jayden said, he’s seen first-hand how the money raised through these walks can benefit people living with arthritis.
The Parksville Walk to Fight Arthritis is June 4 in Parksville Community Park. There are one-kilometre or five-kilometre options.
Registration opens at 8:30 a.m. and the walk starts at 10 a.m. People can also register online at www.walktofightarthritis.ca, and click register.
For more information, contact walk co-ordinator Denise Cormier at firstname.lastname@example.org.