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Adrienne’s IRunYouRun Story

IrunYouRun2 - rockFrom sitting on the sidelines in school because of her arthritis to running the New York City Marathon, Adrienne shows that great feats are possible with her #IRunYouRun initiative.  We are pleased to support The Arthritis Society and are sharing Adrienne’s story to help create awareness during Arthritis Awareness Month!  When Adrienne was diagnosed with juvenile ideopathic arthritis (JIA) at age four, no one could have anticipated that long distance running would become her passion and an achievable goal.  Here, Adrienne shares her story….

“I was told that I had been a very finicky baby, and never seemed to be able to get comfortable.  It all made sense when I was diagnosed with JIA as a toddler.  Before the doctors identified the cause of my discomfort as arthritis, I had been forced to live through rigorous testing and the flares of painful, swollen joints.  Once I received my diagnosis, I proceeded to undergo treatment for pain management only. This treatment plan meant that I had limited mobility, and my disease was still progressing.

By age twelve, my pain significantly impacted my daily life, and forced me to wear ankle, knee and wrist braces to make simple outings tolerable. In elementary  school, I was prevented from fully participating in many activities, including physical education – the teachers didn’t know what activities were appropriate and didn’t want to risk my getting hurt, so I was made to sit on the sidelines during class. This experience resulted in me being bullied by my peers, who did not understand why I was unable to participate in sports. At age fourteen, I underwent painful surgery for the correction of my fused joints, and due to the high risk of infection I was not able to leave my house during the six week recovery period. Growing up, I described the daily pain and discomfort I endured as my “normal,” as I didn’t know a different existence.

My mother, Veronica, has been a pillar of strength in my journey, and never allowed me to think that I wouldn’t be able to achieve my goals. My mom was often heard saying, “Amazing Adrienne,” in reference to my determination and courage in the face of chronic pain.  I remember that she was always there to comfort me on my bad days, but never let me dwell on them. She has always been my biggest cheerleader and made sure I had opportunities to be active in a way that my body could tolerate.

IrunYouRun - hillFortunately, a move to Ottawa meant that I was now going to be under the care of Dr. David Hawkins, who, during that time, took an aggressive approach in treating the root cause of my  JIA and not just the pain. I was put on a heavy dose of Methotrexate and that is when things began to change.  After years of painful and unsuccessful treatments, one finally seemed to be working.  As my pain continued to diminish, I found myself being able to experiment and play with activities that were not accessible to me before.  I  sought the assistance of a personal trainer to help with strength conditioning. When my trainer suggested that I try running, it surprised everyone when I said “yes”.  Starting with just one kilometre and building from there, it was as if my physical body and active mind were finally in sync; it clicked and I was hooked instantly.

As running became more of a passion, I began entering races as motivation to keep moving. I set the goal for myself of running both the Victoria Half Marathon and the Whistler Half Marathon, which I easily completed earlier this year. After visiting New York in November of last year, I was inspired to enter the lottery for the New York City Marathon, and was selected!  Being accepted for this monumental race made me realize just how far I have come since my diagnosis over 23 years ago. My training has increased dramatically in preparation for the NYC marathon, and now includes five runs per week, with the focus alternating between speed, distance and hills.

It may look effortless, but it is important to mention that this accomplishment is anything but.  Some  days are better than others, and I have to do it my way which sometimes includes taking rest days and listening to when I can and can’t push it.  I also have an amazing team of dedicated practitioners behind me.  But every time that I am running, I get that same rush, and I remember how lucky I am and it keeps me going.”

Use Adrienne’s #IRunYouRun on social media to lend your own voice and support to her incredible story during Arthritis Awareness month, and you can reach out to The Arthritis Society and Adrienne at @arthritisbc and @AdrienneLuca


Carrie Gadsby
The Arthritis Society