BOSTON (WBZ-AM) -- Each month, “WBZ Cares” highlights a worthy non-profit organization and tells the story of what that organization does for the community. This month WBZ is profiling The Arthritis Foundation of Massachusetts whose mission is to improve lives through leadership in the prevention, control and cure of arthritis and related diseases.
People may be surprised to learn that a young JFK was one of the founding members of the Massachusetts Arthritis Foundation.
“We were founded in 1950 by rheumatologists and some very prominent members of the medical community as well as the philanthropy community. In fact, I have a leger of the original founding members and one of our honorary vice presidents was nonother than John F. Kennedy,” stated Foundation President Erica D’Agostino.
D’Agostino says the group’s mission hasn’t changed much over the years, “Research, patient education, helping to improve the lives of patients and looking for a cure, which is completely the center of everything that we do.” And she outlined arthritis isn’t just one disease, it actually covers more than 100 conditions that affect the bones, muscles, joints and cartilage.
And contrary to popular belief, it’s not just older folks who have arthritis. “Most people believe it’s your grandmother who gets arthritis, and that’s absolutely not true. You have 300,000 children living with arthritis, which is a lot, and most people just don’t know that,” D’Agostino said.
D’Agostino has a very personal connection to the Arthritis Foundation. When she was just 25, she was diagnosed with a form of osteoarthritis and had to have spinal fusion surgery on her lower back last year. “I lost feeling in my feet. Total feeling in my feet. They fused my spine and put four screws in my back. They’re titanium. I look like the bionic woman. Had the worst recovery. It was the most painful surgery of my life”, she said.
D’Agostino knows exactly what arthritis patients endure on a day-to-day basis. “Pain puts you in an isolation box. And it keeps you there. And it makes you feel like nobody gets it”, she stated. That’s why she’s so pleased the Arthritis Foundation helps show those people that they’re not alone.
“I feel a lot of comradery. I feel a lot of connection to these patients who deal with pain day in and day out and just get up go into work and take care of their families and just find a way to push through,” D’Agostino concluded.
WBZ NewsRadio1030's Kim Tunnicliffe Reports