This past week I got a chance to visit a place I have never been to before (even though I’ve been flying over the area my whole life), Bismarck, North Dakota.

The Great Plains – this is a place you have to see to believe. The vastness of it, and wide open spaces (with very few trees!!) truly epitomizes the word “rural”. It’s a place we reference often, especially when we’re in Washington fighting for improved access-to-care, so we were excited for the chance to go visit in person.

We packed our bags and shipped off to North Dakota to visit with Brenda, an RA patient who this past Friday commemorated her 11th anniversary of being prescribed a biologic. The same drug which has helped her all these years stay active, remain employed, and as of this week, has given her a chance to serve as an advocate on behalf of others.

We spent the day visiting with the Senator’s staffs, the Congressman’s office and her State Representative, sharing Brenda’s experiences with access-to-care issues (like needing prior authorization for the drug she has taken for 11 years, or her fears about what changes would occur when she becomes eligible for Medicare). We also visited with a TV news station and the local newspaper to spread our message to all of North Dakota. Brenda seemed nervous at first, but within about 30 seconds had gotten the hang of things, had found her voice, was poised and spoke with authority and passion.

It was such a trip! Brenda and I got to spend quality time together, going from meeting to meeting, and we talked about how good it feels to help others. It takes the pain away, it makes the day-to-day of having arthritis feel very manageable, when put in the context of a much larger job: to advocate on behalf of others.

Could you see yourself as an advocate, and sharing important messages with the people who make decisions about our healthcare? Take it from Brenda, it could literally be the best medicine out there!

Take a page out of her book and get involved. We want to help you bring out the inner advocate in you!