The Problem:

Autoimmune Disease affects one in five people (AARDA – American Autoimmune Related Disease Association,) 75% of which are women. From the ones that most people know of like MS, RA, Diabetes, Lupus, to ones that you have heard of but had no idea it was an autoimmune disease or disorder like Raynaud’s Syndrome, Narcolepsy, Eczema, Aloepecia, to very rare that you only hear of if you’re one of the lucky ones to get it or have a friend of family member who has, like Wegener’s Granulomatosis – there are over 140 altogether.  It is one of the top ten killers of women under 65 years old and female children. Even though it affects 20% of the population it often takes patients months, years or decades to get a proper diagnosis at the expense of eliminating the possibility to reverse the disease process. Autoimmune diseases (the more lethal ones) are often caught when the disease becomes acute and the patient is in serious distress or life threatening situation, whereas if caught early many autoimmune diseases can be reversible.

Autoimmune disease, previously perceived in popular culture as “an old person’s disease” is now pulling strong productive members of society out of the work force and rendering many in financial distress. There are babies younger than one who are getting diagnosed with diseases previously thought of as reserved only for the elderly in our population. These young children, once diagnosed, are on toxic, drug cocktails for their entire lives not only having to worry about the ravages of the disease but also the potential deadly side effects of the medicines that keep them alive.

Autoimmune Disease attacks different parts of the body sending patients to various specialists who deal with that area of anatomy.  This is the reason we are so very segregated as a disease group. There is research going on within different disease groups but the information stays within that group and doesn’t have a chance to be reviewed by people who are working on the same problem from a different (disease) perspective .

Autoimmune Disease comes with a heavy price tag on individual lives, families, employers, insurance companies, health care costs, and overall cost to our economy, yet the attention and funding going towards research in this area is minimal compared to two other major disease groups.  But nobody has studied this problem in Canada as a whole. We are basing all of our information from AARDA in the United States.

Goals:

Raise public awareness of the widespread presence of autoimmune diseases and to raise funds to contribute to research to find the common thread unifying various forms of autoimmune disease in order to discover preventative measures and develop cures.

The foundation is designed to focus on:

Awareness

  • Raising awareness for autoimmune disease as a whole

Research

  • Support research that falls within the overall goal of the Foundation

Relationships

  • Build relationships and create partnerships with other foundations to create a unified disease group front
  • Work with various organizations and partners to increase our reach and develop products that meet our mandate
  • Create relationships that will benefit everyone and hurt no one.

Canadian Content

  • Work towards creating a Canadian database and solicit research towards Canadian epidemiology for this disease group

On The Ground

  • Promote healthy choices to minimize risk and provide information and support for the diagnosed

Our Team

Find The Common Thread Foundation Board

Hana Dankov-Bye: Sister, entrepreneur, manager extraordinaire (Carpet Studio,) and the girl who’s backed up my crazy ideas since day one. Also one in five, living with Psoriatic Arthritis. She’s the doer. I’m the idea girl, Hana is the operations girl. Together we’re quite a team.

Susan Cesco: Manager of Friends of Jasper and a member of Rotary International Jasper amongst other things, to keep her busy. Sue always has a smile on her face and a mission in her mind, she is a force to be reckoned with. Also one in five, living with Multiple Sclerosis.

Steph Sophocleaus-Lewis: Another strong woman who is so busy it’s amazing she has time to do anything, but she finds a way. Steph is a hotel manager, a business owner and Yoga instructor at River Stone Yoga, as well as a marathon runner. All this seems like more than enough if you are not dealing with a debilitating Autoimmune Disease, but she manages it all while being another one in five, living with Rheumatoid (Idiopathic) Arthritis, which she has had since she was a young girl.

Richard Ireland: Addressed properly: His Worship, Richard Ireland, Mayor of Jasper, and also a lawyer in our amazing town. With those two credentials alone, Richard is automatically a very busy man, but he has agreed to be part of our group because he has seen first-hand the need to raise awareness for Autoimmune Disease and who can argue with the mission to find a common thread and a cure for the whole batch. Richard is also one in five, living with Vasculitis.

Marta Rode: I’m the last member of our board and am now on permanent disability from my disease and the subsequent treatment. I have worked in many fields but when I went on disability I was working for Parks Canada. I am the last of the one in five in our little group (that makes our situation a five in five) as I also have a type of Vasculitis, Wegener’s Granulomatosis (or the new name for it – Granulomatosis with Polyangiitis.)

9 thoughts on “About Us

  1. Hello, my name Trisha and I have rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, graves disease and Sjogren’s 
    Disease. I always wondered why so many suffered from AI diseases and I never saw a fund raiser or a teledebilitatingunable to work and have 3 children.It is about time attention is called to these debilitating diseases and I thank you for standing up for those who cannot.

  2. Hey Marta. I was watching your spot on BT (in my onesie) and was inspired by you. Then on sunday my boyfriend was told me he had Autoimmune hemolytic anemia. They tried to treat it with steroids no luck. So now he is took take some pretty potent drugs. I have researched and have found some information, but its rare and not much has been done in the way of research. Is there a specific web site that can help? I want to treat him holistically as well as what his doctor decides. We.are also looking for support during this time, are there support groups we can contact? Amd how can I help with your group to bring awareness to this topic?

    Cheers. Paula

    1. Hey Paula,
      I’m sorry to hear about your boyfriend. It’s a tough ride finding out you have a disease that is rare and comes with little research or support. I have been on that roller-coaster myself for the last four years. I too have a nasty treatment schedule. I must not be understanding something though. If he was diagnosed on Sunday how can they know that the steroids aren’t helping? It takes longer (months) for them to do their thing, although they can take a few days for you to feel pain relief once treatment starts. Usually chemotherapy (especially for the ones they don’t understand fully) is used to suppress the immune system and the steroids do the same plus they decrease inflammation, which is what causes most of the problems.) This is exactly why Find The Common Thread was started. I know that the only way we will see cures, real cures, is by looking for what’s the common thread of all, or most of the autoimmune diseases. What we’re doing now is obviously not working… at least not in a timely manner.
      As far as support groups are concerned, keep looking. In my experience some are great and some not so much. You have to go around and see what’s out there and the tone with which members support each other. I know that the group I belong to has saved my butt several times when docs were just too busy and too under-read in my particular disease to be helpful. Also try and find a doc who has seen more than a handful of cases, I know that a lot of the disease manifestation and receptiveness to treatment is variable amongst the population so you need someone who has experienced that variation (outside of a textbook) and can react accordingly. It’s truly worth the effort. Rheumatologists are the best at quarterbacking autoimmune disease and then they get a team related to the symptomology you’re experiencing.
      Hope that helps.
      Marta

  3. Hello Marta,

    I happened upon your blog tonight via the Edmonton Rheumatology website as they have your website / blog link listed. I had heard of the Pyjama Day in Jasper via a lady who was taking an on-line writing course with me last year, a long time Jasper resident – Vickie W. I applaud all your efforts in creating awareness about AI diseases.

    I read the story of your diagnosis on your webpage. I am sorry you had to go through what you did to get help / the right diagnosis.

    I was first diagnosed with Sjogren’s Syndrome, then Undifferentiated Connective Tissue Disease (initially they thought Lupus but then also had symptoms of Dermatomyositis so went with the UCTD), and then most recently AI Hepatitis, so then they got the big guns out….so I know exactly about being on Prednisone and Immune-suppressant Chemo meds.

    Wishing you all the best,
    Suzanne

    1. HI Suzanne,
      First and foremost sorry for the late reply. I never go into the email account for this blog and just saw this for the first time. I’m sorry that you’ve gone through the same nasty ride. I remember thinking at the start of my journey how horrible the experience of trying to get a diagnosis was for Wegener’s, but as I started on my quest to unite Autoimmunies and make a stand for us as a group, I realized that the journey is not exclusive to my disease but all of our disease – autoimmune.

      Vicky is an amazing lady. I love her. I use to work with her for a few years at the Information Centre here in Jasper and I’m very glad she joined our paths. If you ever want to join the PJ Day extravaganza, let me know and we can brainstorm something that would be easy to do but impactful. That’s our ‘golden ticket’ so to speak… making it happen together and we will find a cure together.

      All the best with your journey and if you’re ever in Jasper look me up.

  4. Marta,
    I am the President of the M.E.(Myalgic Encephalomyelitis) Society of Edmonton. M.E. is also called chronic fatigue syndrome, which I’ve noticed you list on your site (**). I’d appreciate the opportunity to meet with your group to learn how we could be of benefit to each other.

    1. Hi Chuck,
      Please contact me at madcap01 at telusplanet dot net and we can chat. I’ve gotten the list from the AARDA site and can change that asterick. I know how hard it is to get proper treatment as my mom has M.E. – I also think that calling it M.E. will benefit so many of it’s victims as there seems to be a stigma that comes with it from so many years of not understanding it by the medical profession. I am so open to talking and working together, you have no idea. I’m trying to get a bunch of things in play that will help patients get a quicker diagnosis and hopefully reverse the negative side effects that are normally left to fester and take hold to a point of no return. This isn’t just for M.E. but for all autoimmune disease.

      Thanks for contacting me, and hopefully we’ll chat soon.

      marta

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