Innervoice.life is a website dedicated to telling the inspiring stories of athletes describing their journeys to health, discovery and personal victories. Below is an excerpt of the most recent “innervoice” story, featuring ACE President and Founder Cheryl Koehn.
EMOTIONALLY AND SPIRITUALLY
I no longer play competitive volleyball, or any other sport for that matter. But the inner high-performance athlete is alive and well inside of me, and helps me overcome challenges every minute of every day. Not long after I retired from competitive volleyball, I developed severe rheumatoid arthritis (RA), an autoimmune disease that leads to uncontrolled inflammation and joint swelling, immobility and eventual destruction. From the day I was diagnosed, something inside of me said “don’t stop moving, keep trying to do the things you love”. Little did I know, that perspective is what research would prove years later: high intensity exercise in the setting of moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis is a good thing, as long as you protect your joints from improper movement or stress, or when they are actively inflamed.
I approach my life with rheumatoid arthritis the exact same way I did my competitive sporting life. Emotionally and spiritually, I can be tougher than the toughest times I face. I may not be able to do half of what I used to physically, but I have finely honed team skills that help me in the community development work I lead. I recognise that overcoming a challenge requires thoughtful planning and work, and then more work, before you can “win”. Nothing came easy for me on the volleyball court, and the same is true in life. I know that is very cliché, but clichés exist for a reason; they’re usually true!