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Photography courtesy of Stefanie Remson

When Stefanie Remson was first diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) 7 years ago, she says she felt devastated.

In addition to having limited RA resources in her hometown, Remson’s diagnosis came just after the birth of her first son. She recalls not being able to change her baby’s diaper, feed him, or even hold him due to the pain in her wrist.

As a family nurse practitioner herself, Remson was shocked at how difficult it was to find reliable support and care for RA.

The consistent roadblocks prompted her to make a change.

“I decided then and there that I was going to help people with RA and other autoimmune diseases navigate the medical system and provide resources to help them manage their chronic disease,” Remson says.

Since then, Remson has started her work as the Rheumatoid Arthritis Coach. Using her medical background, she offers customized plans to help people like her redefine their relationship with RA.

Remson began coaching 6 years ago and has helped dozens of individuals tackle the challenges of living with a chronic condition.

“I set out to inspire hope, and I do,” Remson said. “I inspire and empower people with RA every single day. It’s the most amazing work I have ever done.”

Remson works to overcome the challenges of RA in all aspects of her own life, too. Previously an athlete, Remson’s diagnosis forced her to adapt to lower-impact forms of exercise. On days with less pain, Remson likes to exercise by walking, practicing tai chi, doing pilates, and lifting weights.

“I have learned that you only slow down from chronic disease if you let it slow you down. You really have more power, control, and strength than you realize. It is still your life, under your control,” Remson said.

In addition to her roles as a mother, nurse, and teacher, Remson is proudest of her coaching work.

Her advice for other people living with RA? You can do it.

“Always remember you can do hard things,” Remson said. “You have already gotten through 100 percent of your hardest days. You’re doing better than you think.”