JointHealth™ express   December 9, 2015

2015 was a year full of challenge, empowerment and change, and Arthritis Consumer Experts was by your side through it all, delivering the consumer-patient voice and fighting for the rights of Canadians with all forms of arthritis.

For me, 2015 also marked the point in time when I have now lived more than half my life with rheumatoid arthritis. Where did the time go? It seems like yesterday I sat across the desk of a rheumatologist and heard them say to me, "you have rheumatoid arthritis".

In my "half-life" with rheumatoid arthritis, I, like hundreds of thousands across Canada, have seen life changing scientific advances in medication and non-medication therapies. New medicines, like biologics and targeted small molecules have literally saved people's lives and are now commonly used words and terms in an ever expanding arthritis consumer (patient) "dictionary". Blood tests such as JOINTstat™ are being used to strengthen a rheumatoid arthritis diagnosis and possibly predict disease severity. Research into exercise has proved that even people with severe rheumatoid arthritis should find ways to exercise safely in order to improve or maintain joint function and maintain cardiovascular and general health. And most recently, evidence that begins to suggest people with rheumatoid arthritis' life expectancy is moving closer to that of the general population, possibly as a result of the treatment paradigm shift from "wait and watch" to "earlier and aggressive". These types of advances have also occurred in the other common inflammatory diseases, ankylosing spondylitis and psoriatic arthritis.

Across Canada, we are also seeing early implementation of a program called GLA:D (Good Living with Osteoarthritis in Denmark) to help individuals with osteoarthritis to reduce their symptoms and increase their function. This program has been effectively used by individuals who have mild occasional knee and hip pain, suggestive of early degenerative symptoms, as well as moderate and even severe symptoms, where they are waiting to undergo joint replacement surgery.

In 2016, ACE moves into its 16th year and advocacy remains at the centre of all work areas, programming and tactics. We are proud champions of advocacy initiatives that led to consumer participation in arthritis research and federal and provincial government policy decision-making. We have tirelessly led the fight for fair reimbursement access to the full range of medications to treat all Canadians living with arthritis and osteoporosis. And as Canada's largest, longest running arthritis consumer organization led by people with arthritis and those it serves and supports, ACE is committed to elevating awareness from the consumer-patient perspective in a challenging environment where competing disease area interests vie for overlapping public, government, private payer and media attention.

Canadians with arthritis face formidable, at times unique, barriers to appropriate care. It is hard for any individual to fight their arthritis battle alone. But as it has since the day it founded, ACE will be by your side, providing trusted, evidence-based education and information in ways that change your arthritis experience for the better.

Wishing you and your families the very best in health and life this holiday season. Thank you for inspiring ACE. Thank you for inspiring me.

Cheryl Koehn
Founder and President
Arthritis Consumer Experts