At 20 years of age Katherine Vickery-Howe received a diagnosis which dramatically changed her life. She was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis.
“I was in my second year at university when it started, so my studies were deferred. At the time I was in a serious relationship and that fell apart. Previously, I had been physically well - I jogged, rode my bike, did aerobics, sailed - all of that stopped. I had been working 2 jobs to pay my way through Uni - that stopped too. My whole life just fell apart,” she said.
With no previous family history, and a current healthy lifestyle, the condition hit her out of the blue. Her arthritis was so aggressive, her hands and feet started to deform immediately, so clothes and shoes were the first things that needed to be adjusted - nothing with buttons or shoe laces. As the disease started attacking further joints, her inability to do day-to-day tasks rapidly increased.
As a young woman in her twenties Katherine moved back home with her parents. No longer could she enjoy her youth by going out with university friends. She was often bed ridden and her agonising and severely deformed hands meant her parents now helped her with the simplest of tasks such as cutting up her food.
Katherine has undergone a multitude of treatments in last twenty years, from prescribed drugs to trials, and with the drug pain relief has also come the side effects.
However, ten years ago a miracle happened when Katherine took part as a volunteer in a drug trial for Mab Thera. She felt so well that she continued to hassle her Rheumatologist for the treatment until it became a PBS drug within the last couple of years. Currently Katherine has two infusions every six months of Mab Thera, which gives her excellent results.
Now in her early forties Katherine finds comfort volunteering and socialising at Arthritis & Osteoporosis WA.