Marilyn Belec Bittman has never been one for taking things slow. An award-winning veteran of the film industry for 32 years, she worked for the National Film Board, owned her own company (Mobius Media), and helped found the first Canadian chapter of Women in Film and TV – Toronto.
Staying on the move is serving Marilyn well now that the 80-year-old is living with arthritis. She keeps active by exercising, walking, attending theatre, dance and lectures with friends, doing some creative cooking and spending time with her husband and family.
When Marilyn was diagnosed with arthritis a decade ago, she decided she would not let the illness interfere with her life. “When you have arthritis, your number one job is to keep going, do your exercises and take care of your body,” says Marilyn. She joined an eight-week exercise boot camp and takes part in workshops through the Arthritis Society to assist with pain management. She trains with Nordic walking poles to increase her mobility and improve her overall physical health.
After reading newsletters and emails about the Walk to Fight Arthritis [www.walktofightarthritis.ca], Marilyn decided she wanted to get involved. Walking can be a considerable challenge for someone with restricted mobility and this was a five-kilometre walk! She established a team — MAB for Her Dad — to honour her late father, who had lived for many years with rheumatoid arthritis
, and became an advocate for the Arthritis Society, reaching out to family and friends for support. As Marilyn watched the progress of her fundraising efforts, she was inspired to reach out to more contacts and determined to train and exercise in preparation. When the day of the Walk arrived, she was delighted to have increased her physical and mental fitness, surpassing what her goal of raising $2,500.
“Simply getting through a heavy door can be difficult when walking with a cane and carrying a parcel!”
From walking to day-to-day living, navigating the busy downtown core can pose significant challenges for those living with restricted mobility due to arthritis. “Even something as simple as getting through a heavy door can be difficult when walking with a cane and carrying a parcel!” Marilyn says. “It is a great feeling when you look up and there is a young smiling face offering their help.” For most, the chronic pain of arthritis is an invisible condition — the simple gestures of help with a door or offering a seat can make a huge difference for someone living in pain.
Canadians across the country came out for the Walk to Fight Arthritis, raising over $1.1 million to support essential programs and research. With the support of her daughter, friends, walking poles and a big Bouvier named Luke, Marilyn completed the Walk in style!
Marilyn proves that it’s never too late to get moving — and never too late to make a difference.