Erin's story 

“The greatest challenge in having rheumatoid arthritis for me physically is having two naturally fused wrists and a foot joint which is basically the same. This has always gotten in my way, giving me excuses as to why I can do this or can't do that. I was on a surgery waitlist, but being the stubborn person I am, I started Bikram yoga. After a few months of this, my foot started to have more strength and I didn't limp all the time (just sometimes). By the time I saw my surgeon, he recommended that I didn't need surgery due to the help from the yoga! From this, I have learnt to take each day as it comes. Try to progress forward small amounts when you feel brave – and hopefully you'll do the impossible one day too!”

We first met Erin when she started volunteering with AQ in 2012. She was diagnosed with severe erosive rheumatoid arthritis in Grade 12, when she was 18. At the time she was able to graduate with the help of conditional passes, but after this was unable to work for a number of years whilst she learnt to manage her condition and regain confidence in herself. With the support of her friends and family, she started university at age 24.

“I started a 6 year journey completing a Bachelor of Science (psychology), another year of Honours on top of that and most recently my Masters in Organisational Psychology. I am now a fully registered psychologist and am working my first full time job, something which I never thought I'd be able to do!”

Erin has provided inspiration and hope to others who share her condition and when we asked her where she sees herself in 10-20 years, she answered…

‘I hope to have a family with my partner but also having established my own sense of identity in my profession. The aim is to have a stable and secure future, but then again we know nothing is set in stone, we have to just keep pushing in a hopeful direction and dance around the obstacles that get in our way. Due to the things I have overcome, I have hope that if something doesn't go to plan, something else will be waiting that I can still be happy for.’

We would like to sincerely thank Erin for sharing her living with arthritis journey with us, and we look forward to hearing more about her amazing work in the future!