Life is full of unexpected things. Sometimes the unexpected can change your whole attitude towards the world in a good or a bad way. For me, having to cope with a serious health issue both helped me grow stronger as a person and inspired me to help others.
When I was 19, I started having pain issues. I underwent various medical tests which initially seemed all in order but, eventually with a help of my current doctor I was diagnosed with AS and started the biologic therapy right away.
The most difficult part for me was accepting the fact that I have to live with this condition for the rest of my life. Dancing is one of the things that I love the most. It’s a way of expression, relief and exercise for me and the concern I may never be able to dance again devastated me.
To my relief, having AS didn’t mean I had to give up dancing and along the way I also discovered something that changed my life: Zumba.
Zumba is a type of exercise that combines Latin dance inspired choreographies with fast paced training. It is fun, refreshing and helped me get over my problems and grow as a person. Through various types of Zumba I was able to develop my fitness level, my endurance, my posture and of course my feelings towards my life in general. I become a more motivated, focused and happier person. I wanted to introduce Zumba to others with AS while raising awareness of the condition to the world.
NASS is currently fighting to raise awareness for this condition, so I decided to organise the Zumbathon: a Zumba charity marathon where people would have fun while learning and dancing.
My Zumbathon took place in April 2017 and the response was amazing with the energy that was unbelievable. Dancing for a cause makes it more worth-doing. All the instructors and dancers enjoyed themselves. The nicest part was that we were able to raise £750 for NASS to raise awareness about AS.
Seeing everyone enjoying the event and learning about my condition, made me feel really happy and satisfied with the person I have become. I believe living with any medical condition should not hinder your life or your choices. Anything is possible with a right attitude and dreams. I’m a living proof of that!
Zumba really changed my life and I hope Zumbathon will change the lives of people like me. My hope for the future is that AS will not be an unknown disease and it will be easier to be diagnosed and treated.
Stefania is a young and highly motivated Zumba instructor. Her positive attitude and passion for dance had a major influence on dealing with her ankylosing spondylitis diagnosis. While suffering form this chronic condition she doesn’t forget about giving back and helping others with similar issues.