Rhonda and Taiya McLellan have been key in helping to organize the Walk to Fight Arthritis

Daughter lends a hand — Walk to Fight Arthritis is Sunday in Parksville

Teen steps up to help organize fundraiser on mom’s behalf

Rhonda McLellan says she never knows what kind of day she’s going to have when she gets out of bed.

Rhonda was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis in February 2008.

“I didn’t have any idea. The way it started was my feet hurt and I thought I was working too much,” Rhonda said.

For the past seven years, Rhonda said she’s been on a consistently high dose of prednisone, which is used to treat inflammatory diseases.

“I have exhausted, unfortunately, all the treatment options. I went through all the treatments. I went through treatments called biologics. I’ve tried those and I’ve exhausted those,” Rhonda said.

Now eight years later, Rhonda says even opening a water bottle can be a struggle.

“Like today, it’s in my hands, my knees, my ankles and my toes and my elbows. So that’s where it hits today,” Rhonda said. “Tomorrow it might be my jaw, my neck, my shoulders. It just rotates through the body.”

She said some people don’t realize that, and they think you just have arthritis in one body part and that’s it.

With arthritis, Rhonda said there’s extreme fatigue and flu-like symptoms.

“Flare ups can last anywhere from a couple days to months on end,” Rhonda said.

Through it all, Rhonda said her daughter Taiya has been a big help.

“She’s had to grow up watching and coming to appointments with mom,” Rhonda said. “It’s a different lifestyle growing up in a household that doesn’t have full mobility. She’s done well with it.”

Taiya was about seven years old when her mom was diagnosed, and Taiya said she’s never known anything different.

“Seeing my friends, they do the dishes and then they’re done. Here I have to lift things and help her get dressed,” Taiya said. She added that she doesn’t see any of it as extra work, though.

This year, Grade 10 student Taiya said she decided to help get the Walk to Fight Arthritis going in the community. Taiya said her Ballenas’ Civics Action Club started organizing for the walk around February.

“We started planning how we were going to raise money and the impact my club is going to have on the walk,” Taiya said.

The Walk to Fight Arthritis is taking place this Sunday in Parksville.

Quality Food has donated food for a by-donation BBQ, and Rhonda said the Rod & Gun and other local businesses have been extremely supportive of the walk. She said there will also be a kids table with face painting, tattoos and hair dye, all by donation.

The June 5 event kicks off from the waterfront walkway gazebo at the Parksville Community Park. Registration opens at 8:30 a.m. and the walk will start at 10 a.m.

This fun and arthritis-friendly event has a

1 km and a 5 km version. People are invited to come with family and friends and walk, run or stroll. Four-legged friends are welcome.

Rhonda said people are more than welcome to come and ask her questions about arthritis.

“I’d be glad to answer any questions that people have about it. I’m quite open nowadays about it. It’s not one of those things I feel I need to keep a secret.”

Register online at walktofightarthritis.ca to participate. For more information, visit online at www.arthritis.ca.

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