Spain: Life with rheumatoid arthritis through pictures and words

  • Left:
    Left: "We are many, we are with you" Right: "The adventure of shoe laces". Pictures by Ricardo Cavolo
  • "With small aids your disease will no longer hold you back". Picture by Carla Fuentes
  • "Small tasks, big challenges". Picture by Carla Fuentes
  • "Sometimes life is cloudy but the sun always, always come out". Picture by Aitor Saraiba
  • "It has appeared in your way but you can go with it". Picture by Aitor Saraiba

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a disabling disease that results in irreversible damage to cartilage and bone. In addition, people suffering from RA endure debilitating pain caused by chronically inflamed joints. Over the past decades, treatment approaches to ease this pain and slow down joint destruction have evolved, thanks to advanced scientific understanding of this disease and to new research technologies.

However, despite various treatment options, RA is still a difficult disease to manage. Every person is unique and may respond differently to different treatments. An early diagnosis will allow for better management of the symptoms related to RA, because with treatment the inflammation, pain and joint damage can be controlled. Finding the optimal treatment for a particular patient requires an open discussion between them and their doctor, which can sometimes be problematic as the two sides may have different expectations when it comes to a treatment that works for them.

The challenge was to find enough magic and affection to convey a sense of optimism around this devastating disease.
Ricardo Cavolo, artist of the AnimART campaign

In collaboration with ConArtritis, the national patient organisation for RA, Roche Spain works together with national artists Aitor Saraiba, Ricardo Cavolo and Carla Fuentes on the campaign AnimART to encourage improved communication between RA patients and doctors to ensure early diagnosis and optimal treatment. The three artists captured what living with the disease means to people with RA in a total of 15 illustrations. The illustrations tell the story of this chronic disease and aim to explain the the burden of RA.

Watch the video (with English CC subtitles) to learn more about this initiative:

Although over 224,000 people suffering from RA in Spain, there are still many misunderstandings that exist around the true impact that this disease has on their lives. The objective of AnimART is to increase awareness and clear up confusion around RA among the general public. Further, the campaign, endorsed  by the Sociedad Española Reumatología (National RA Society of Spain), empowers people suffering from RA to take an active role in the management of their disease.

This project has allowed me to truly understand what this disease means to those who suffer from it. I hope that my drawings will help generate a better understanding and greater appreciation around patient needs for those who are not familiar with RA.
Aitor Saraiba, artist of the AnimART campaign

Along with a video featuring comments from the artists and an information brochure for patients, the illustrations are exhibited on the AnimARt campaign website.  

Read our arthritis stories from around the world:

Tags: Rheumatoid Arthritis, Society, Patients