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.
35-year-old Anna Legassie of Dorchester wants people to know Arthritis is much more than just a few aches and pains affecting older folks. At age 11, she was diagnosed with an auto immune arthritis that also had a major impact on her vital organs. So much so that Anna almost died.
“Less than a month after my original diagnoses I had developed so much inflammation around my heart that I was in acute congestive heart failure. And at one point I was airlifted from our local ER down on the South Shore to Boston Children’s Hospital and I was placed in a medically induced coma for six weeks to protect my other organ systems from failure,” Legassie outlined.
Since then, Anna has had to go under the knife a number of times.
“I had both my hips replaced when I was fourteen. And I have had a total of ten surgeries. So I have had six hip surgeries, three knee surgeries, and a wrist surgery,” Legassie said.
Today, Legassie is extremely active and athletic on days her body let’s her. She says she’s an avid runner and cyclist and likes to do obstacle course races like Spartans and Tough Mudders.
“But on my worst days I’m not getting out of bed because my heart is still at play here. My worst day is probably a flare up of my heart condition that will put us in the hospital,” Legassie said.
Anna has been a patient advocate for the Arthritis Foundation for the last 20 years. She’s been fighting for the rights of arthritis patients on Beacon Hill and Capitol Hill. For Legassie, it’s all about helping the children. She says she’s motivated and moved by the next generation of arthritis patients.
“And when I see other young kids struggling with this diagnosis in similar ways I did, they’re it. They’re my whole reason, you know, on my worst, on my hardest day, I’m like ‘oh gosh I don’t want to write another email, I don’t want to make another phone call’. I really try to keep those kids front and center in my mind and always use them as a motivation,” Legassie commented.
Seven-year-old Bradley Newell is one those next generation kids who have been diagnosed with arthritis. He’s got some advice for other children fighting the same battle.
“Don’t worry. Don’t let yourself be hurt. It’s going to be okay,” Newell said.
Wise words from a seven-year-old…
WBZ NewsRadio1030's Kim Tunnicliffe Reports