Michelle Watson was only 27 when she found herself unable to get up out of a chair. She was working at a hospital at the time, and after getting bloodwork, her doctor called her and said “Drop what you’re doing and come to my office.” One of her labs was 100 times the normal range. Soon she was diagnosed with polymyositis.

A year later, she found The Myositis Association (TMA). “TMA is so wonderful – they have really changed my life. They gave me a scholarship to attend the TMA International Annual Patient Conference. I still have friends from that conference more than 20 years later.” She found “a room full of people just like me!” who shared concerns, advice about medications and doctors, and support for each other.

“In the old days,” Michelle said, “Black people stayed quiet about health problems, but this disease doesn’t have color. I was inspired by people of all backgrounds and abilities learning about their disease and encouraging one another.

Michelle’s patient, wonderful husband found support from other care partners whose honesty and authenticity helped him navigate his own path. He and Michelle’s sister, who has dermatomyositis, provided her unconditional support.

Michelle became a support group leader, giving back to this community that has helped her for so long. “People helped me realize it’s up to me to make lemonade out of lemons. This is a long game – I learned to be patient. My TMA friends have been with me through everything.

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