Young Adult Arthritis Events!
Organized by: Ginamarie Russo
VH1 Twinning star, Ginamarie Russo, was diagnosed with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis at the age of 12. Now, in her twenties, she gives advice to children as part of the Arthritis Foundation’s Young Adult Leadership Board. Russo shares her journey of encouragement, misdiagnosis, family and a visit to the doctors she’ll never forget. “I was officially diagnosed with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis [at 12]. When I heard those words, I laid my head on my mother’s lap. I was in shock. Scared. Confused...when you hear of arthritis you think of older people and the four letter word that haunted me in my years to come: PAIN” After being misdiagnosed in her earlier years with Tendonitis, her constant pain proved too sever to be ignored. Ginamarie describes her mother as relentless, seeking the best care and alternatives, a characteristic that ultimately lead to the right diagnosis. Smiling as she continued, Ginamarie’s eyes lit up when speaking of the support she received from her family, “I was in agony performing the simplest task-as brushing my teeth.” She adds, “But my family never made me feel like there was something wrong with me.” Russo attributed her identical twin sister, Annamarie, to her happiness and strength while growing up. Now she uses her platform to help other families and children, encouraging them to pursue their dreams amidst the pain. She makes note of how important a support system is to those children recently diagnosed, “...having Annamarie [twin] share my dreams really pushed me in life. We always motivated each other...that was the best medicine I could’ve received.” An average of 300,000 cases a year have been reported as JA. An autoimmune disease that may have once been overlooked, is now being researched and carefully studied in hopes of finding a cure. Until a cure is found, Ginamarie continues to push ahead, “I refuse to let RA defeat me. I built a support team around me that I couldn’t be more appreciative of. I won.”