(BPT) – At a young age, Randi learned the importance of self-advocacy and honest conversations in the face of health struggles. Like most kids, she enjoyed sports and being active. When she was 10 years old, she started having pain in the joints of her knees, shoulders, and ankles. Doctors and coaches told her she was experiencing tendonitis. Randi would live silently with this pain for six more years.
At the age of 16, Randi started playing basketball. She noticed that she was regularly “jamming” her fingers and they weren’t healing. When it got to the point that Randi couldn’t turn a doorknob without pain, her mother thought there was something more serious going on. It was time for Randi to seek out help from specialists.
After six months of seeing various doctors, and thanks in part to the persistence of her mother and a blood test, Randi was finally diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic, systemic and potentially debilitating autoimmune disease that is estimated to affect over 1.3 million people in the U.S. alone. And while RA most often begins between the ages of 30 and 50, RA can start at any age, according to the World Health Organization.1-3
Be your own advocate
At the beginning of her RA journey, Randi struggled to communicate about the symptoms associated with her disease and advocate for herself. The pain and discomfort in her joints – including her knees, shoulders, and ankles – was real, but those around her couldn’t fully grasp it or understand why it persisted. She often felt like she couldn’t express herself or her symptoms to doctors. “I went through a stage where I was scared to advocate for myself. I was just going to say that I wasn’t in pain because looking at me you couldn’t tell that I was. I didn’t want to be rejected and told that I was crazy.”
After years of feeling rejected, and with the help and support of her mother, Randi knew it was time to be her own advocate. She explains, “No one knows the pain I am experiencing but me and I have to be mentally OK with that before I can talk to my doctor and others about it. I know that my care needs to start with selfcare first.”
Randi encourages other people living with RA to track their symptoms to foster productive conversations with their physicians. “It speaks volumes to doctors if you have a diary, journal or log of all the symptoms you have been experiencing over the course of time. I think when you are able to articulate your symptoms and experiences, you and your doctor can put together a treatment plan best suited to you.”
Topics and questions she encourages others living with RA to think about and openly discuss with their doctor include:
- “What are the signs that my RA may be getting worse?” Share with your doctor any changes in your symptoms day to day.
- “How might I know if my current treatment is no longer providing me with the symptom relief I need?” Monitor symptoms like pain levels and joint stiffness to determine if your treatment is helping.
- “When might it be time to start talking about other options?” If you are still experiencing severe symptoms or side effects from treatment, be open with your doctor and talk about if it is time to consider changing treatments.
Communicate with your doctor
This open communication approach helped Randi meet and overcome a major milestone in her RA journey. After living with the chronic disease for years, and despite various treatments, she still lived with pain that made it difficult to go about her daily routine. “In my senior year of college, I was in so much pain I didn’t want to walk across campus to get to class,” said Randi.
She went back to the doctor and learned about a different treatment option: Kevzara® (sarilumab), an injectable prescription medicine called an interleukin6 (IL6) receptor blocker. Kevzara is used to treat adult patients with moderately to severely active rheumatoid arthritis (RA) after at least one other medicine called a disease modifying antirheumatic drug (DMARD) has been used and did not work well or could not be tolerated. To learn more about Kevzara, including the risk of serious side effects, visit Kevzara.com.
Randi has been sticking to her regular treatment schedule and is happy with the results. “Switching to Kevzara has allowed me to experience less pain associated with my RA. I am grateful for the positive changes it has brought to my daytoday life.”
To help others living with RA become more educated and empowered, Randi is collaborating with Sanofi as an Emerge from RA ambassador to share her personal experience in virtual and live events throughout the year. To learn more about her story, please visit: https://www.emergefromra.com/peoplelivingwithRA.
Important Safety Information
KEVZARA® (sarilumab) can cause serious side effects including:
- SERIOUS INFECTIONS: KEVZARA is a medicine that affects your immune system. KEVZARA can lower the ability of your immune system to fight infections. Some people have had serious infections while using KEVZARA, including tuberculosis (TB), and infections caused by bacteria, fungi, or viruses that can spread throughout the body. Some people have died from these infections. Your healthcare provider should test you for TB before starting KEVZARA. Your healthcare provider should monitor you closely for signs and symptoms of TB during treatment with KEVZARA.
- Before starting KEVZARA, tell your healthcare provider if you
- think you have an infection or have symptoms of an infection, with or without a fever. Symptoms may include sweats or chills, muscle aches, a cough, shortness of breath, blood in your phlegm, weight loss, warm, red, or painful skin or sores on your body, diarrhea or stomach pain, burning when you urinate or urinating more often than normal, if you feel very tired, or if you are being treated for an infection, get a lot of infections or have repeated infections
- have diabetes, HIV, or a weakened immune system
- have TB, or have been in close contact with someone with TB
- live or have lived, or have traveled to certain parts of the country (such as the Ohio and Mississippi River valleys and the Southwest) where there is an increased chance of getting certain fungal infections (histoplasmosis, coccidioidomycosis, or blastomycosis)
- have or have had hepatitis
- After starting KEVZARA, call your healthcare provider right away if you have any symptoms of an infection.
- Before starting KEVZARA, tell your healthcare provider if you
- CHANGES IN CERTAIN LABORATORY TEST RESULTS: Your healthcare provider should do blood tests before and after starting KEVZARA to check for low neutrophil (white blood cells that help the body fight off bacterial infections) counts, low platelet (blood cells that help with blood clotting and stop bleeding) counts, and an increase in certain liver function tests. Changes in test results are common with KEVZARA and can be severe. You may also have changes in other laboratory tests, such as your blood cholesterol levels. Your healthcare provider should do blood tests 4 to 8 weeks after starting KEVZARA and then every 6 months during treatment to check for an increase in blood cholesterol levels.
- TEARS (PERFORATION) OF THE STOMACH OR INTESTINES: Tell your healthcare provider if you have had a condition known as diverticulitis (inflammation in parts of the large intestine) or ulcers in your stomach or intestines. Some people using KEVZARA had tears in their stomach or intestine. This happens most often in people who also take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), corticosteroids, or methotrexate. Call your healthcare provider right away if you have fever and stomach (abdominal) pain that does not go away.
- CANCER: KEVZARA may increase your risk of certain cancers by changing the way your immune system works. Tell your healthcare provider if you have ever had any type of cancer.
- SERIOUS ALLERGIC REACTIONS: Serious allergic reactions can happen with KEVZARA. Get medical attention right away if you have any of the following signs: shortness of breath or trouble breathing; feeling dizzy or faint; swelling of your lips, tongue, or face; moderate or severe stomach (abdominal) pain or vomiting; or chest pain.
- Do not use KEVZARA if you are allergic to sarilumab or any of the ingredients of KEVZARA.
- Before using KEVZARA, tell your healthcare provider if you
- have an infection
- have liver problems
- have had stomach (abdominal) pain or a condition known as diverticulitis (inflammation in parts of the large intestine) or ulcers in your stomach or intestines
- recently received or are scheduled to receive a vaccine. People who take KEVZARA should not receive live vaccines
- plan to have surgery or a medical procedure
- are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. It is not known if KEVZARA will harm your unborn baby
- are breastfeeding or plan to breastfeed. Talk to your healthcare provider about the best way to feed your baby if you use KEVZARA. It is not known if KEVZARA passes into your breast milk
- take any prescription or nonprescription medicines, vitamins, or herbal supplements. It is especially important to tell your healthcare provider if you use
- any other medicines to treat your RA. Using KEVZARA with these medicines may increase your risk of infection
- medicines that affect the way certain liver enzymes work. Ask your healthcare provider if you are not sure if your medicine is one of these
- The most common side effects include:
- injection site redness
- upper respiratory tract infection
- urinary tract infection
- nasal congestion, sore throat, and runny nose
These are not all of the possible side effects of KEVZARA. Tell your doctor about any side effect that bothers you or does not go away. You are encouraged to report side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA at www.fda.gov/medwatch or call 1-800-FDA-1088.
WHAT IS KEVZARA?
KEVZARA is an injectable prescription medicine called an interleukin-6 (IL-6) receptor blocker. KEVZARA is used to treat adult patients with moderately to severely active rheumatoid arthritis (RA) after at least one other medicine called a disease-modifying antirheumatic drug (DMARD) has been used and did not work well or could not be tolerated.
To learn more, talk about KEVZARA with your healthcare provider or pharmacist. The FDAapproved Medication Guide and Prescribing Information can be found below, or by calling 1844KEVZARA (18445389272).
- World Health Organization. “Chronic rheumatic condition.” Available at: http://www.who.int/chp/topics/rheumatic/en/
- Gibofsky, A. Overview of epidemiology, pathophysiology, and diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis. Am J Manag Care. 2012 Dec;18(13 Suppl):S295302.
- American College of Rheumatology. “Rheumatoid Arthritis.” Available at: http://www.rheumatology.org/IAmA/PatientCaregiver/DiseasesConditions/RheumatoidArthritis.