What I Learned at the 10th Annual National Gathering of the Arthritis Introspective: Don’t Be Afraid to Disagree

2017 national arthritis conference

I joined the Crescendo Bioscience marketing department within the past year, so the 10th Annual National Gathering of Arthritis Introspective, which took place in Kansas City in June, was my first opportunity to participate in this educational and fun-filled weekend. I admit I am still on a learning curve, but the conference really solidified for me both the simplicity and complexity of RA and how patients cope every day.

My top-line impression of the meeting is that I can’t wait to go back next year! The highlight of the meeting for me was being able to meet so many RA patients and to spend time getting to know them. I had the chance to chat with many patients who shared their stories, including challenges they face, but who, at the same time, brimmed over with positive energy. I met so many patients with such a great look on life and determination to advocate for themselves and their fellow arthritis patients. It was a really happy group.

10th annual national arthritis foundation gathering

I was also impressed by the deep sense of community I observed. Just listening to the conversations as attendees talked among each other, it seemed they were really close friends. Many of the participants at this year’s gathering attend every year and keep in touch with each other between meetings. I could sense how eager people were to gather new information and just to be there in each other’s company.

I was able to see this community in action when I attended a workshop discussing patient-physician communications. I also saw how these patients advocate for themselves. They are not afraid to tell their doctors how they are feeling or to disagree. They advocate for themselves and want to partner with their physician, not be a passive patient. They mentioned community and support groups as being really key because through those relationships, patients gain insight into what other patients are doing that’s working well or not working, which can inform conversations with their own doctors. I really admire these patients’ strength!

Most of the time, I was at the Crescendo Bioscience booth, handing out patient brochures, Medicare flyers, #RedefiningRA, and Vectra buttons, talking with patients who stopped by and meeting new people. Many people were repeating attendees and were already familiar with Vectra. It was so encouraging to hear their positive stories and what a difference Vectra has made in their lives!

I also had the chance to meet Thérèse Humphrey, @TerezHumphrey, who is an incredible advocate in her own right. She gave us a shout-out on Twitter (Thanks Thérèse!), but what was even more heartwarming was to hear how grateful she was for the Vectra test and how Crescendo Bioscience was able to make a difference in her life. Thérèse had a situation where her Vectra scores weren’t getting to her doctor on time. She tweeted about it and someone at Crescendo Bioscience was able to get the ball rolling so that the process went quickly. She’s doing really well with her RA. She came by our booth because she wanted to take a photo with anyone from Crescendo. @TerezHumphry, we’re sorry we didn’t connect, but let’s get that photo next year!

arthritis foundation event

The most popular photo opp was with MyRA, our cardboard cut-out figure representing our MyRA smartphone app that helps patients easily track their day-to-day joint pain to help them communicate better with their doctors about how they’ve been feeling. You may have seen in an earlier Vectra Voice post how we came to take MyRA with us to conferences and events around the country! Past patients already knew MyRA and were excited to pose with her! She’s a lot of fun, and we were thrilled that she even made an appearance in the group photo!

MyRA patients

I was really moved by the stories of the patients I met and their openness to sharing with me. I felt so encouraged and excited by how the people I met are #RedefiningRA by building community and advocating for themselves. I look forward to connecting with my new friends again next year and deepening our relationships further!

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