More than five years ago, Rosa Garrett began experiencing symptoms she couldn’t explain. One day she woke up in so much pain, she thought that her hand was broken.
“I knew something was wrong, but could not figure out what it was,” says Rosa, a clinical resource coordinator for Sharp HealthCare.
When the pain persisted, Rosa knew it was serious, but she couldn’t find the words to explain how bad her pain truly was.
“Sometimes my right hand would be in so much pain, I had to use a pencil to type on a keyboard. Other times my hand would be fine, but my left shoulder would be in excruciating pain, to the point where I couldn’t even lift it. Some days it was so hard to even get out of bed,” she says.
The symptoms continued to escalate, and Rosa found herself having fewer and fewer pain-free days. It wasn’t until Rosa’s friend, Dr. Michael Hughes, a preventive and sports medicine doctor with Sharp Rees-Stealy Medical Group, ordered an MRI and lab work for her that she was able to find answers. In 2017, after months of severe pain and numerous doctor’s appointments, Rosa was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
“Before I was officially diagnosed, I thought for sure I would end up in a wheelchair,” says Rosa. “It was hard to do simple things like getting dressed, washing my hair, and getting in and out of the car.”
“Rheumatoid arthritis is not the same disabling disease that it once was,” says Dr. Broudy. “There are a lot of good new treatments, and hope that a patient with RA will gain control of their disease and be able to have a full and rewarding life.”
Rosa adds that it’s important to work with a rheumatologist to take medications safely.
“Dr. Broudy was able to find the right combination of medication for me. She is always very supportive and knowledgeable,” says Rosa.
Today, Rosa is mostly pain-free, thanks to the care and support she received. Not only can she once again perform basic tasks without pain getting in the way, but she is also able to pursue her passion for running.
Rosa has been a runner since 2006 and was worried her RA would prevent her from continuing the sport. Now that Rosa’s pain is under control, she is back at it and running competitively.
“I was able to achieve my long-time goal of qualifying for the Boston Marathon. Five years ago, I never would have thought that it was possible,” she says.
Rosa first quailed for the Boston Marathon in 2020, but it was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. She ran the virtual event that year by completing a marathon around San Diego. Now, in 2021, Rosa has once again qualified for the marathon and will be running in person in Boston this October.
“I am so proud of Rosa for pursuing her dream of running the Boston Marathon,” says Dr. Broudy. “She is a testament to the fact that you don’t have to let your rheumatoid arthritis slow you down, and you can still do physically challenging things if you take your medication and see your rheumatologist.”
Rosa’s ultimate goal is to run all six major marathons: Boston, New York, Chicago, London, Tokyo and Berlin.
In addition to running, she is also passionate about advocating for others with RA. Rosa will be recognized as the honoree for the upcoming Arthritis Foundation Jingle Bell Run in December, which raises funds and awareness to help find a cure for RA.
“Through this experience, I learned that no matter how hard things get, you should never give up on your dreams. Every mile I’ve run led me to this point,” says Rosa.