The Ministry of Lisa Copen

Lisa Copen, Founder of Rest Ministries which serves the chronically ill, shares about mothering, illness, ministry and more.

Archive for hopekeepers magazine

Rheumatoid Arthritis Surging Among Women


Me typing. I use 3 fingers, 2 thumbs. Right hand: Index finger and thumb. Left hand: index finger, pinkie. and thumb

A recent article in Bottom Line Daily Health News said that rheumatoid arthritis is increasing among women. It’s been 16 years ago this summer I began having symptoms. I was diagnosed a few months later and had just turned 24 years old.

In some ways it is nice to have people at least familiar with the name of the disease. However, overly optimistic commercials about treatment have led to this knowledge.

Someone recently emailed me who was just diagnosed to ask for rheumatoid arthritis resources. The 2 I immediately thought of was The Arthritis Foundation and their magazine Arthritis Today. The magazine has gone through many editorial changes in 16 years and just this year made their web site much more interactive as well as geared towards people under 50 too.

Bottom Line Daily Health News states in their Wed 5/13/2009 edition:

Rheumatoid Arthritis Surging Among Women

Why the increase? Some of the growth can be accounted for by the fact that doctors now have more awareness of how to diagnose the disease. Other factors are at work too, I learned from Eric L. Matteson, MD, chair of rheumatology at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.

Hormones are known to play a role (since RA typically improves with pregnancy but comes back after delivery) but researchers are examining possible environmental explanations as well. For instance, researchers recently learned that there is an association between living near busy highways and development of RA.

Here’s another theory: For unknown reasons, some people are prone to develop RA after exposure to particular viruses. After a virus has made the rounds and exposed large numbers of people, it may be dormant for a long period, since many people have built immunity. That immunity eventually fades — then, if the same virus returns, it once more affects many people, including some who are susceptible to developing RA. Dr. Matteson noted that such a swell in chronic diseases due to reemergence of a triggering cause, such as virus, is not uncommon.

– Eric L. Matteson, MD, Chair of Rheumatology, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota

So why do I have RA?

  • Well, I lived on a dead ended gravel road in a little tiny town with two stop lights, in the same house from age 1 to 18.
  • I was rarely ever sick.
  • I got RA before any pregnancy. In fact, I never had a pregnancy. We adopted.

Hence, once again, I am still stumped when people ask, “How did you get RA?” I have no idea. Just blessed I guess. Sometimes we have to live without the answers.


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HopeKeepers Magazine is Out!

HopeKeepers Magazine Sample - April-June 2009
HopeKeepers Magazine Sample – Read 18 Pages Free!

Do you have a subscription? If we have your correct email,
you will have already been notified. If not, check here.

New 64-Page Digital Magazine Offers Spiritual Support to Chronically Ill

Over 100 million Americans live with a chronic condition and despite what we may assume, 60% of are between the ages of 18 and 64.1 This is nearly 1 in 2 people. HopeKeepers is a consumer magazine which offers spiritual support to those who live with a chronic condition, such as fibromyalgia, diabetes, or degenerative heart disease. It’s published by Rest Ministries, Inc. a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. It began in 2003, but has now moved to a digital format to be able to reach more people and double its size from a digest version to 8.5 x 11. You can read 18 pages for free at .

This 64-page publication subtitled “joyfully serving the chronically ill,” is Christian in nature, and addresses diverse topics such as spiritual struggles, family challenges, alternative medicine, and caregiving, and includes devotionals, doctor’s advice, and profiles of celebrities and national HopeKeepers groups.

The current article features articles on how our personality makes a difference in dealing with difficult times, grand-parenting with an illness, a checklist for a successful support group, a feature on Adoption coach Sherrie Eldridge who lives with lupus, and more.

Research has shown that patients who seek a connection with God and support from church members are less depressed and rate their quality of life as higher, even when the diagnosis is less than favorable.

“There are many health magazines,” says Lisa Copen, 40, founder and editor-in-chief of HopeKeepers, “but for those who may live for decades with a chronic illness, there are few resources, especially Christian ones, that address the roller coaster of emotions they experience and the practicalities they need to live effectively with disease.”

Lynn D. Morrissey, author of Love Letters to God: Deeper Intimacy through Written Prayer and AWSA/CLASS speaker. “Its articles are encouraging and enlightening, written by real people who have overcome their pain with the hope of Christ. Hope is more potent than any medicine from a bottle—it’s the love of God poured into our hearts.”

Copen, who has lived with rheumatoid arthritis since the age of twenty-four, is the founder of Rest Ministries, Inc., the publisher of HopeKeepers and National Invisible Chronic Illness Awareness Week, an event held annually in September featuring a free 5-day virtual conference at . HopeKeepers is one of the sponsors of NICIAW.

Read 18 pages for free at . A one-year single subscription is $17.97 or one issue is $6. All proceeds support Rest Ministries, Inc.

Sources: 1 Chronic Care in America: A 21st Century Challenge, a study of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.