Vanessa Balitaan almost felt like she was caring for two infants in the summer of 2016. She had just given birth to her third child when her 18-year-old daughter Cyerra, recently graduated from high school, was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis.
“I never expected to be carrying two of my children up and down the stairs,” Vanessa shared. Cyerra was in so much pain that she could not eat. Her weight had dipped to 80 pounds.
Cyerra was supposed to start university in September, “but we decided to just take the year off and focus on walking again and getting better,” said Vanessa.
The family reached out to The Arthritis Society for pain management resources and support. Through Winnipeg office staff, the Balitaans found an agency that would connect Cyerra with an arthritis-friendly workplace that understood her need to take frequent breaks and her sudden flares.
The moment registration opened for the 2017 Walk to Fight Arthritis, the Balitaans signed up.
“We named our team Rheummates because that’s what this disease does – it moves right in with you and has a huge impact on everyday life,” explained Vanessa.
“It was a great experience to be part of the Walk and see so many young people, even children, coping with the pain. It gives us hope to keep fighting. With The Society’s help, Cyerra is on the right track now.”
What has kept Cyerra going? A quotation that Cyerra found when her condition worsened before her diagnosis and she was getting ready to graduate: I'm going to limp my way to success.
“She even has it engraved on her ipod,” said Vanessa. “It just makes me so proud how determined and head strong she is to accomplish her goals and dreams.”
Rheummates raised a total of $1,165 in their first Walk to Fight Arthritis, and Vanessa won a Walk Star prize draw. Congratulations to Vanessa, Cyerra, and all of team Rheummates on your success. Thank you for being part of our family.