Published February 21, 2013
Christine Schwab was living the high life. She was married to a powerful TV executive and had a lucrative career of her own as a well-known TV fashion reporter doing makeovers for top-rated shows and covering high-fashion award ceremonies, like the Oscars and Golden Globes.
But a devastating diagnosis almost ended all that – and she recently sat down to discuss her new book, “Take Me Home From the Oscars,” with Dr. Manny Alvarez, senior managing health editor of FoxNews.com.
Schwab first felt pain in her feet in New York City after doing a week of makeovers. She brushed it off at first as pain from walking around in heels – so she bought sneakers and got a foot massage. Still, the pain persisted.
When she returned to Los Angeles, she sought medical attention – but not one of three doctors could figure out what was wrong. And the pain was spreading to her knees.
“I’m on a treadmill; they call me manic sometimes,” Schwab said. “I thought maybe that was it; that I overdid something on the treadmill because I’m very much into health. I finally ended up at UCLA, and they diagnosed me with rheumatoid arthritis.”
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that leads to inflammation of the joints and surrounding tissues. It can occur at any age, and women are more susceptible than men.
At the time of her diagnosis, Schwab thought she’d end up in a wheelchair, and her glamorous lifestyle would be taken away. She decided to keep the diagnosis a secret – for 20 years.
“I was suffering, in a lot of pain, and I went through a lot of medications,” Schwab said.
She decided to reveal her diagnosis because she was hearing more and more about rheumatoid arthritis, and after doing some research – she realized just how lucky she was.
“I got into a research program, and I got one of the new biologics,” Schwab said. “The biologic put me in remission. I, and my joints, have been in remission for 15 years. I felt like it was time to give back. It was time to make a difference.”
Schwab admitted to Alvarez she was fearful of losing her career – that arthritis didn’t – couldn’t fit into the world of beauty and fashion.
“They should take away that you never give up hope,” Schwab said of people reading her memoir. “You never, ever give up hope. Arthritis is like a roller coaster. You have good days, and you have terrible days. You just have to keep on moving forward and not give up hope, and you have to reach out to people.”
Schwab said her message is especially important for children suffering from juvenile arthritis. She started working with the Arthritis Foundation and even has a Facebook page dedicated to helping children with the disease.
And no matter what – Schwab said she’s not going to let the disease define her.
“I am going to define myself,” she said. “And, I’m doing really good. My joints are in total remission.”