Peg and Jacob are board members for Arthritis New Zealand and both have inflammatory arthritis. Read about why they chose to be so involved in the organisation and what volunteering means to them…
I joined the board because I thought I might be able to make a difference to people like me who have arthritis and in particular rheumatoid arthritis.
I have had RA since my early 30’s and have largely gained control of it through good specialist advice, stress management, mindset, diet, exercise and medication. I joined the board in a hope that I may be able to offer a “consumer” perspective. I believe I have managed my RA through having awareness and focus of my “whole body and mind” and I would love to see a New Zealand where newly diagnosed people have access to a full range of resources – good dietician advice, exercise advice and counselling services for managing the psychological impact of what for most is a shock. Imagine a newly diagnosed person gaining a card that enables them access to all of these services. When I was first diagnosed 20 years ago everything I found on the internet was deeply depressing. So I stopped looking and went on my own journey of exploration. This experience alone made me apply to be on the board of Arthritis New Zealand.
I was diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondylitis when I was 11 years old.
Countless doctors’ visits and months passed before we were able to get a diagnosis. Being so young, I didn’t really realise the impact that this would have on my life, but as the years have gone on, I’ve had to learn ‘on the job’ what it means to live with arthritis. I’ve learnt that I have to pace myself, and know my limits.
I’d heard that there were other kids with arthritis, but I never really knew the extent of it until I went on an Arthritis kids camp in Matamata. This camp was unbelievably beneficial to me; I was not alone, and I had the proof right in front of me.
Without fail, every year this camp shows new kids with arthritis that even though they’ve been dealt a less than ideal hand, there are still so many ways to have fun and keep active, while at the same time teaching us to pace ourselves, learn our limits and realise that no one will think any different of you if you can’t participate or need to sit this one out. The arthritis camps have been a highlight of my journey growing up with arthritis, so much so that I still go back every year to try and do my bit to help those kids with arthritis.
Arthritis has played a major role in my life, and this is what has motivated me to be more involved. I wanted to be a member of the board so that I could have some influence on an area that is close to my heart; the youth population with arthritis. I felt like having grown up with Arthritis as a youth would really help me to assist the organisation in making the lives of young people with Arthritis better.