"I want to support research into this crippling disease"
Arthritis has shaped Mrs Myrtle Middleton’s life since she was a child. She watched her mother endure a lifetime of suffering, while caring for her, and then went on to develop the disease herself. A former branch member and long-standing supporter of Arthritis Research UK, she’s leaving a gift in her Will to help try to find a cure.
"When I was quite small, my mother developed rheumatoid arthritis and then, when I was 15, my father asked me to leave school to help my mother with the household. Leaving school early impacted my whole life."
Mrs Middleton developed her first symptoms in the late 1950s. “I realised something wasn’t quite right. I developed both rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis, although predominantly the latter. In 1978 I had my first hip replacement, followed by a second in 1981. Both have been brilliant and I can still drive short distances.
"However, I now have a degenerating spine, complete degeneration disc disease, and more than three levels of spinal canal stenosis. I wear a surgical corset, but now the disease has spread to my neck. I go to tai chi once a week and have also been having physiotherapy.
"I included a gift in my Will to find not just better treatments, but a cure. Arthritis, in its many forms, is a dreadful condition that affects everyone, old and young."
Pam has fought arthritis for decades to lead a full life
Pam Hibbs, 82, has battled inflammatory osteoarthritis since her late 20s but still leads a fulfilled, happy life. She’s needed medication and at least 12 major operations to stay healthy and active.
The osteoarthritis Pam has managed for so long runs in her family, affecting her cousin too. "Though I’ve had severe arthritis, my cousin’s inflammatory osteoarthritis was worse than mine,” says Pam. “So I wanted to change things. I know personally how debilitating it can be and I want to help others."
It’s not always been easy. After one operation, Pam couldn’t make it down the stairs and was marooned in her flat for weeks on end. However, she believes in always having something to look forward to. When she’s having a bad time and can’t leave the house, she promises herself a reward when she next can venture out, like some retail therapy and a bite to eat. She’s also in regular contact with family in Australia, staying in touch via Skype chats, and loves getting the latest videos of her grandsons.
Pam’s passionate about helping others with arthritis, whether that’s by increasing the public’s knowledge of arthritis or providing inspiration and support to fellow sufferers. She’s a former nurse and received a CBE for her enthusiastic work at Hackney Hospital.
Last year, Pam decided to include a gift to Arthritis Research UK in her Will to help fund pioneering research. "I feel I’m doing something to help for the future.
"I want, someday, for everyone with arthritis to be able to live free from pain and to make the most of their lives,” she says. "And I’m sure I’m not the only one who has this hope."