Arthritis Patient Advisory Board
Diagnosed with arthritis as a child, Samantha has been living, coping, and often thriving with the chronic disease for more than half of her life.
Joining the Arthritis Patient Advisory Board in 2019, Samantha looks forward to drawing on her six years of experience with national health charities to advance the mission of Arthritis Research Canada from the patient perspective.
Facing a diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis at the young age of 19, Nikki felt she had minimal understanding of the disease or support in dealing with it. No one in her family had arthritis, and being a first generation Canadian it was difficult to describe to her parents and grandma. In the early years after her diagnosis she almost felt ashamed disclosing her disease, hiding her symptoms at school and at work, knowing that many people have the common misconception that arthritis is meant for the elderly. Eventually, she began to embrace her disease and work to educate those who don’t know or understand it.
Nikki joined APAB in September 2019 hoping to advocate for those with the disease to advance research and provide the patient perspective. She looks forward to learning and participating in current and future research at Arthritis Research Canada.
On good and bad days Nikki finds support from her family dog Knight for his unconditional love. As most of us know dogs are great for therapy. When not working Nikki enjoys swimming, biking, skiing, and tennis. She loves the great outdoors and hiking, and is currently working on perfecting her golf swing.
Eileen Davidson always knew about arthritis. Her grandmother and aunt had it. But Eileen never really understood her grandmother’s need for double knee replacement surgery or her aunt’s true reason for her wheelchair until she was also diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) at age 29.
Eileen had to stop working as an esthetician and, by the time her pain was taken seriously, she was eligible for long-term disability. Then she was diagnosed with osteoarthritis (OA). Arthritis took a toll on Eileen’s life. So she decided to fight this invisible enemy, not just for herself, but for her young son, Jacob.
Eileen is passionate about creating awareness about arthritis. In late 2016, she became an ambassador for The Arthritis Society and created her blog ‘chroniceileen.com’. She has been published in Reader’s Digest Canada and Inked Magazine, as well as on healthline.com and themighty.com. In addition, Everyday Health recognized her blog as one of the top ten arthritis blogs.
Patient advocacy has given Eileen a new outlook on life and keeps her moving forward. Her goal is to help those struggling with chronic illness to live better, healthier lives. Arthritis Research Canada plays a major role in that.
Waking up with pain after her 30th birthday led to Keeva going through the Swedish healthcare system to receive a diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Keeva, not a native to Sweden, felt lost navigating how to manage the disease in a foreign country and language.
Her grandmother and grand-aunt both had rheumatoid arthritis before treatment was advanced as it is today. Despite having an idea of what RA was, it was difficult to communicate with her family and friends about what she was going through and even harder to find a new lifestyle more accommodating to her disease. She hung up the soccer cleats and running shoes.
Reading countless research articles and available information online led to Keeva wanting to turn her diagnosis into something to help others. Keeva joined the Patient Advisory Board in May 2021 hoping to advance research by providing an international patient perspective to Arthritis Research Canada. In her free time, she enjoys traveling, cooking, and cold water swimming.
Kelly has been a member of the Arthritis Patient Advisory Board since 2013 and a co-chair since 2017. Belonging to Arthritis Research Canada’s Patient Board has improved her quality of life by giving her a chance to help shape research. The researchers have welcomed her as a participant in research but also as a patient-partner in research. Kelly has participated in focus groups for medication adherence, exercise motivation with a Fitbit and with limited coaching from a physio, walked 10 blocks a day and tested a health journal, as well as others.
As a patient-partner, Kelly has participated on a team composed of a scientist, a trainee and several patients to develop a framework for Patient Engagement in Research which can be used by many disease groups – not just arthritis. She is on several other projects as a team member as well.
With the support of her fellow board members, she has attended rheumatology conferences, written newsletter articles, learned to tweet and had numerous speaking engagements. One recent experience was with Sheila Kerr on a webinar “Patient’s Experiences of Engaging in Research,” found here: https://www.msfhr.org/ktconnects#Dance
Christine has been living with rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis and fibromyalgia for over 30 years, during which time she has seen a lot of changes in arthritis research, medications and treatments. Being active in all sports, particularly, competitive gymnastics and badminton, led her to teach sports including gymnastics programs and downhill skiing to handicapped children and teens.
Through participation in the Ontario Arthritis Patient Partner program she learned to train medical personnel (doctors, medical students, physio & occupational therapists and nurse practitioners) to perform the muscular-skeletal exam on arthritis patients by using herself as an example.
As a professional Accountant and Business Consultant, Christine has developed resiliency in dealing with people’s perception of arthritis, i.e. that looking and acting normal does not mean that you are not suffering from debilitating pain, stiffness, fatigue and depression.
Due in part to the COVID 19 pandemic, Christine re-started her Pilates journey, realizing the importance of core strength, flexibility, coordination and balance in the aging process, especially when living with arthritis. Group Pilates classes did not meet her specific needs, so she became a certified Pilates instructor to help others.
Christine joined the Arthritis Patient Advisory Board to participate in arthritis research and in particular to advocate for research related to improved access to arthritis care and support.
Alison has been a member of the APAB team since 2013. Living with rheumatoid arthritis and autoimmune gastroparesis, she is a physical therapist and works as a Knowledge Broker for the University of British Columbia’s Department of Physical Therapy, Physiotherapy Association of BC and Arthritis Research Canada. Additionally, she is a Research Associate of the Centre for Health Evaluation and Outcome Science and the Knowledge Translation Lead at the School of Population and Public Health, Centre for Clinical Epidemiology & Evaluation, UBC. Alison is passionate about knowledge translation and patient engagement in healthcare research.
Sadiq was diagnosed with Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA) at the age of six and has been living with the disease for 18+ years. The arthritis started in his neck and soon evolved to a systemic condition affecting multiple areas, causing joint stiffness, muscle weakness and chronic pain.
Sadiq has been a competitive golfer for 12 years. After captaining his high school golf team to its first provincial championship, he was recruited to play at Kenyon College, a private liberal arts school in Ohio. Throughout this time, Sadiq has constantly battled his arthritis through various medications, physiotherapy regimens, and other muscle/joint restorative therapies. Fortunately, through the help of his rheumatologist, parents, coaches, and physiotherapy group, he is able to manage his condition and continue chasing his dream of playing on the PGA Tour.
Sadiq joined the Arthritis Patient Advisory Board in 2019, after engaging in other volunteer roles in his community and school as an advocate to overcoming adversity and competing in sports at a professional level. Sadiq is excited to work with other members of the Board who are as interested in arthritis research as he is. He enjoys being involved in emerging research and providing a patient’s perspective to research topics.
Sadiq continues to do advocacy work with a variety of groups and is thankful that through a healthy lifestyle and with strong support, he has found an effective way of managing his arthritis. Sadiq looks forward to helping others do the same.
Born and raised in North Vancouver, Alison was diagnosed with Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA) at age 3. She underwent a bilateral jaw joint replacement surgery at 22 while simultaneously pursuing a degree in computer science and mathematics from the University of Oregon. Alison is passionate about patient advocacy and helping others with rheumatic diseases. She is hopeful that sharing her own experiences with JIA, anxiety and depression can help others going through similar journeys. Having benefited from a strong support system of family and friends, Alison is excited to bring her desire to learn and advocate to the Arthritis Patient Advisory Board. She currently works as a data analyst at a game studio in Vancouver. In her free time, Alison is an avid foodie who enjoys skiing, golfing and hanging out with her beloved canine, Jovo.
Annette is an enthusiastic advocate for patient inclusion in research and in healthcare decision making. She has had rheumatoid arthritis for the past 30 years and was a partner in a market research fieldwork company until retirement. In 2014 she was an ePatient Scholar at the Stanford Medicine X Conference in Palo Alto, and from 2013 to the present has been the moderator of the Reaching Out With Arthritis Research (#eROAR) tweetchat.
Annette sits on the Board of Directors for the Sjogren’s Society of Canada and tweets at @Sjogrensca for the SJSC. She also is a volunteer Health Mentor for the Centre For Interprofessional Education in Ontario and is a founding member of the Patient Advisors Network, a community of practice for patients. You can often find her participating in tweetchats as @anetto or blogging about health related issues at her blog called “Your Gold Watch – Rheutired.”
As a member of APAB from Ontario she is honoured to be a member of the Arthritis Patient Advisory Board and to work with such a well qualified and effective group of volunteer advocates.
Born and bred in British Columbia, I have been learning about autoimmune disease for many years through my closest friend of 25 years who has lupus. When I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis in the fall of 2011, my GP told me that this was a field that was progressing rapidly with research and treatment, and it gave me hope from the beginning. My family was a huge support after diagnosis, attending appointments, searching for information, and helping me with the practical needs of daily living and emotional needs that come with the stresses and fears of a new diagnosis of an incurable disease.
Being diagnosed in the age of the internet can be a curse and a blessing, but mostly a blessing, which I discovered in the two months from my positive blood work until my first rheumatologist appointment. I found social networking to be an amazing tool in finding support and in being guided to practical information as well as some very frightening information. I was ‘mentored’ by a wonderful woman whom I have never met, and I was fortunate to have had the greatest team of caregivers to go on my journey with me. I was prepared to fight for a good team, but I was blessed with the help of the great programs available to us here in BC. A lot of the information out in the cyber world can be very scary to navigate alone and I want to help others navigate through their journey using the tools available.
I am a reluctant blogger and offer support through social media and after attending my first ROAR (Reaching Out with Arthritis Research) event, eROAR2013, I was so very impressed that I offered my support and joined APAB to learn more about the great research being done, to spread the word, to give hope to others out there with these diseases, and to help others advocate for themselves.
Philippa was diagnosed with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus in her early 20’s and since that time has learned a lot about the many different forms this condition can take. She is very grateful for the health practitioners, clinical supports and research that have helped her to manage the challenging impacts of the disease and is inspired to contribute to research and educational efforts that support those living with rheumatic conditions.
Philippa has been a member of APAB since early 2019, so far participating in a number of research projects, the online Arthritis Research Education Series, and plain language abstract summaries. She is amazed and encouraged by the abilities of her fellow board members and the team at Arthritis Research Canada. Philippa looks forward to contributing her writing, administrative and project management skills, as well as a lupus patient perspective, to continuing research initiatives.
After experiencing the onset of nagging hip pain in 2017, Kohle was subsequently diagnosed with osteoarthritis (OA) at the age of 27. With no single injury or trauma to the joint, Kohle has always been curious and has never gotten an answer on why he got OA. Having been a recreational athlete for over ten years, Kohle has struggled with a “new normal” of chronic pain and activity limitations, particularly as a young adult.
As a Professional Engineer and current PhD student in Rehabilitation Sciences, Kohle has witnessed firsthand the value of meaningfully engaging with stakeholders during research and development. Kohle joined APAB in March 2022 to give back and help shape OA research in Canada. As a younger person living with OA, Kohle hopes his experiences and perspective can support research to make an impact on OA care in Canada for years to come.
A mechanical engineer and father of three, Chris was diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS) in 2016. Initially he thought his back symptoms that started the year prior were due to poor posture, but quickly spreading and worsening symptoms led to his AS diagnosis. Chris spent the subsequent two years chronicling his condition, including various treatments and medications, and struggling to regain normal activities. Chris is now able to manage his arthritis through diet and lifestyle without medication, although symptoms are never too deep under the surface. He joined APAB in September 2019, both through a desire to learn more about his condition and similar types of arthritis, and to share his experiences with AS with the Advisory Board and with researchers. He hopes his experience with AS, combined with the analytical perspective of an engineer, will help researchers with their work and ultimately help other AS patients manage their symptoms.
Originally from Ontario, Charlotte was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis shortly after starting her Master’s of Science in Epidemiology in Western Canada. At the time, she was a 23-year-old graduate student who prioritized her academics over her health, but eventually, the pain and inflammation in her feet and hands was too much to ignore. With the support of her loved ones and her rheumatologist, regular exercise, a conscious diet, and a lot of reading, Charlotte finds herself in a place where she feels in control of her arthritis and her future.
Charlotte applies her own experiences with arthritis to her research focused on the health and mobility of older adults. She is passionate about health literacy and hopes to devote her future career to helping others understand research and make healthy choices. As a member of APAB since 2019, Charlotte is excited to be a part of a team that is dedicated to improving the lives of people with arthritis through science communication, leadership, and engagement. One of the younger members of the team, she hopes to be an advocate for others coping with the uncertainty and stress that an arthritis diagnosis in early adult life can bring.
Louella has been a member of the Arthritis Patient Advisory Board team since 2018 and has lived with Raynaud’s since 1999. She desires to learn more about her condition and other rheumatic diseases, and to share her experiences with the very talented Arthritis Research Canada researchers as a means to advance the science regarding these conditions. Louella also volunteers with Vancouver General Hospital (VGH) Cuddle Visits program, which provides in-home social & emotional support to new moms at risk for postpartum depression.
Louella’s formal education is in computer and information science, and she has an MBA from Simon Fraser University. Her career background involves business and process re-engineering, information management and technology, and project/change management.
Louella has a natural curiosity and is committed to lifelong learning. She has a special passion for teaching and guiding children to explore their own creativity, curiosity and leadership potential. Louella hopes her experience with her condition, along with her organizational and project management background, can be leveraged by Arthritis Research Canada to support research that advances our understanding and treatment of all rheumatic diseases.
Trish was born and raised in British Columbia with stints in Alberta and France; she now calls both the Okanagan and the Lower Mainland home. With being a competitive athlete in badminton and skiing over the years, sports injuries were inevitable. Due to reconstructive knee surgery in the early 80’s, Trish has lived with osteoarthritis for over 25 years. Although she was told that arthritis might occur subsequent to the surgery, she was surprised when she started dealing with the arthritis pain and stiffness in her 30’s instead of her 60’s, as she too believed that arthritis was a disease of the elderly.
Her background is sports injury prevention, volunteer management and sporting events management. She has been involved with the Commonwealth Games in Victoria, the World Figure Skating Championships in Vancouver, Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics and sport teams, especially rugby from mini, youth, club, to old boys & representative rugby with BC & Canada. You will find her on a rugby pitch most weekends either as a trainer or a rugby Mum!
Trish has been involved in the arthritis community for over 25 years as an educator, volunteer manager and event planner. Her focus is helping people living with arthritis learn about self-management and ways to live well with arthritis and dispel all the myths about arthritis! She has been involved with APAB’s ROAR education forum since 2007. Arthritis research is key to learning new ways of managing arthritis, understanding the impact and importance of physical activity on arthritis and taking control of arthritis in the workplace. Being involved in these research projects have changed her life with arthritis by empowering her in her daily life and she hopes others will benefit too; Trish recently participated in a pilot project – read more about it here: https://www.vchri.ca/not-just-disease-elderly. She shares her knowledge of osteoarthritis on a personal level, her organizational and leadership skills, her experience in the sport injury field, and her passion for helping people.
Natasha Trehan is a university student studying Biomedical Science in the French Immersion Stream at the University of Ottawa. She was diagnosed with Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis at the age of 13. As a teenager, she felt alone and was unable to find the instant resources to connect with other people with similar lived experiences. She founded the Take a Pain Check Podcast in March 2021 to ensure that young patients feel supported every step of the way. In October 2021, she founded Take a Pain Check Foundation – an organization by youth and for youth with lived experiences.
During the pandemic, she decided to dedicate her summer to getting involved with research so she could truly learn about her own invisible disability and help others. Currently, she is in the COVID-END team with the McMaster University Health Forum and a Co-investigator for the Youth Engagement in Research Project at CanChild Centre for Childhood Disability Research. She is also a trained patient researcher through the PaCER Training Program through the University of Calgary Continuing Education.
As a patient acquiring research experience, Natasha’s aim is to create a platform for youth and young adults living with rheumatic diseases, to raise awareness, and make a meaningful impact on the community. She is very excited to bring her perspective to the Arthritis Patient Advisory Board and is extremely grateful to be part of the team.
Karen’s 15-year experience with non-radiographic axial spondylitis (the non-fusing form of ankylosing spondylitis) and her experience with the typical delay to diagnosis (8 -10 years) inspired her to switch career paths midway through graduate school to become an arthritis physical therapist. In 2015, she became the first formally trained rheumatology and orthopedics advanced practice physiotherapist in British Columbia and has been fortunate to have been involved in arthritis care in BC on many levels; from research, clinical practice, and teaching, to lending her patient voice to projects. She is excited to be able to contribute her knowledge and patient experience to support the research at Arthritis Research Canada.
The Research Liaison role with APAB is to be a link between the Patient Advisory Board and the research scientists at Arthritis Research Canada. This includes making sure APAB is aware of new research applications, successful grants and any other opportunities for APAB to play a role in giving input into research or disseminating information about research that is being done at Arthritis Research Canada.
As Executive Assistant to Arthritis Research Canada’s Scientific Director and Research Secretary, Patricia has first-hand knowledge of all the ongoing journal articles, conference abstracts and research awards involving Arthritis Research Canada Investigators, putting her in a unique position to offer support to the Arthritis Patient Advisory Board as their Research Liaison.