“My Best Tip for Fighting…”

Two people share their words of wisdom on how they feel their absolute best amid their health issues.

Cheryl Solimini
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If you're coping with a challenging disease, there is nothing like getting perspective from someone who's been there. Listen in as folks share the tips that helped them thrive despite their condition, and ask your healthcare team if they can help you, too.

...rheumatoid arthritis "Never give up hope"

Photograph by Dana Fineman

Those are the encouraging words of Christine Schwab, a Hollywood TV reporter whose nearly debilitating joint pain at age 43 was finally identified as rheumatoid arthritis (RA) in 1990. "My saddest day was when a doctor said there was nothing to be done for me," remembers Christine. "Then I found a rheumatologist who offered different combinations of treatments. Health care is like a good marriage: It takes a partnership to make it work."

After seven years of treatments that had their ups and downs, Christine joined a research program testing a new group of drugs called biologics, which target the parts of the immune system that spark inflammation in diseases such as RA. For her, one of those biologics halted the pain and progression of her joint damage. "I learned, though, that this doesn't 'cure' RA, which can still affect other organs," she cautions. "So I exercise to support my joints, eat healthfully, try to reduce stress and treat myself well."

Christine hid her condition for years but eventually told her story in Take Me Home From the Oscars (Skyhorse). She also became a passionate voice for arthritis awareness, highlighting both her advocacy and TV career at ChristineSchwab.com, and started a Facebook page for juvenile arthritis called "Christine's Kids." Adds Christine: "It's a better time than ever for arthritis patients, as research has brought many new treatments, with more on the way."

...diabetes "Eat real food"

Nick Sokoloff Photography

In 2006, Jeremy Johnson visited his doctor to find out why he had suddenly gained nearly 30 pounds in six weeks. After all, at 37, he was a physically fit military veteran who worked as a fitness coach at CrossFit Mount Olympus in Salt Lake City (he even represented the Utah National Guard as part of the U.S. Army's World Class Athlete program). So Jeremy was shocked when his doctor said he had type 2 diabetes (later he found out he had a family history of the disease).

Since then, Jeremy has learned what dietary changes help to steady his blood sugar: "Stay away from processed foods—always read product labels—and make your own meals," he says. "I mainly eat meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, a little starch and no sugar." Jeremy has also changed his workouts, finding that lifting weights, rather than doing high-intensity aerobics, keeps his blood sugar from spiking. (A mix of moderate aerobic exercise and strength training is recommended for controlling diabetes; ask your doctor about the best plan for you.) Adds Jake: "Pay attention to your body—and eat real food!"



April 2013