This article is part of the Arthritis Archives.
Dateline: August 26, 2000
You likely know her as Janice, Tony Soprano's sister, on the hit HBO show, "The Soprano's". In a very different kind of role, Aida Turturro has also been cast as the national spokesperson for rheumatoid arthritis. Interviewed by Star Jones on ABC's "The View", Turturro spoke out on arthritis awareness.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease which affects about 2.5 million Americans, mostly women in the prime of their lives. The disease is characterized by inflammation, joint pain, and fatigue. Persistent symptoms can result in damage to cartilage, bone, tendons, and ligaments, ultimately leading to permanent disability.
Aida Turturro and Rheumatoid Arthritis
Aida Turturro was first diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis when she was 12 years old. Turturro's earliest memories of the pain associated with the disease are connected to a family vacation at the beach at Martha's Vineyard. Unable to walk from excruciating pain, she had to be carried to the water by her father. Following a visit to the doctor, Turturro was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis but little was offered in terms of treatment options.
Turturro lived with the pain, continued in school, and later began working. Admittedly, she did not understand the consequences of her diagnosis initially and was even unaware that a rheumatologist is a specialist and expert in treating rheumatoid arthritis and related diseases. All that has changed now for Turturro. She has become educated about her condition and realizes how vitally important that education is to fighting the disease.
In an interview with the Arthritis Foundation, Aida stated, "I'm lucky because my disease hasn't progressed too far. Sometimes I have good days, sometimes I am in a lot of pain - but I never really let my RA stop me from doing the things I want to do. I know that there are alot of people out there for whom the disease has progressed to a debilitating stage".
Joint Effort Against Rheumatoid Arthritis
Believing that it is important for her to encourage other rheumatoid arthritis sufferers to become educated about their disease, Turturro has helped launch a nationwide awareness program, "Joint Effort Against Rheumatoid Arthritis", which is co-sponsored by the Arthritis Foundation and Centocor, the makers of Remicade. The awareness program is designed to arm people with the information necessary to manage rheumatoid arthritis. Over 100 free, educational seminars will be held across the country offering:
- tips on improving your diet
- ways to develop an exercise program
- information about new treatments
- support and sharing among people who have RA
The first batch of seminars will be held in Baltimore, Denver, Phoenix, Knoxville, Houston, Miami/Fort Lauderdale, and Cincinnati.
Sources: Aida Turturro, Show Recap, The View, 8/24/00; Aida Turturro, Star of "The Soprano's", Reveals Battle With Rheumatoid Arthritis, 8/21/00; Aida Turturro: Facing The Challenge, Arthritis Foundation; Joint Effort Against Arthritis, Arthritis Foundation
First published: 8/26/2000