Tina Wesson Won "Survivor 2" With Rheumatoid Arthritis

Tina Wesson Is Surviving Rheumatoid Arthritis

Tina Wesson of Survivor
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Tina Wesson was selected from a group of 49,000 applicants to be one of the contestants on the hit reality TV show, "Survivor 2: The Australian Outback". If you have not seen the show, a group of 16 contestants is whittled down week by week. The last contestant who "survives" after 42 days of competition wins. At the end of Season 2, Tina Wesson was voted "Survivor of the Australian Outback" and winner of the coveted $1 million dollars!

About The Survivor Reality TV Series

The 42 days of competition is no walk in the park. There is rough terrain, plenty of obstacles, scarce food to eat, and just enough stress and attitude to make it interesting. As the Survivor series plays out, viewers of the show become more familiar with the personalities and physical abilities of each contestant. You see them run, jump, haul, crawl, climb, swim -- you name it!

That's what you would expect to see contestants doing in a game of survival. But, is it what you expect to see Tina doing? Various publicity sources leaked that Tina has rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Watching her on the Survivor series, it seemed unbelievable that she has rheumatoid arthritis, especially to people who suffer with the disease.

The questions were many:

  • How can she do the rigorous activities required on the show?
  • What miracle drug is she taking?
  • How long has she had rheumatoid arthritis?

    While digging deeper into Tina's background, searching for answers to the questions, more remarkable feats were discovered. Tina works as a private duty certified nursing assistant. She is married and a fulltime mom. Tina, described as an "avid athlete" has:

    • completed the Dublin, Ireland, Marathon
    • placed 1st in the TN State Racquetball Tournament
    • placed 1st in her age division in her hometown mini-triathlon

    Tina's hobbies include racquetball, paddleball, running, swimming, and motorcycling. Many rheumatoid arthritis patients who have been limited by the disease were amazed to learn Tina has the same disease. The abilities that Tina demonstrated on the Survivor show are not really congruent with the image of the typical person who has rheumatoid arthritis.

    Some people with rheumatoid arthritis were concerned that viewers of "Survivor 2" would get bogged down by various misconceptions about arthritis and trivialize the severity of the disease. They worried that they would be compared to Tina by family and friends.

    Things to Consider

    How long has she had RA? Reportedly, Tina Wesson was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis in 1994. She won season 2 of Survivor in 2001.

    Of the following rheumatoid arthritis characteristics, which apply to Tina's condition?

    Of the 4 functional classifications for rheumatoid arthritis, which applies to Tina?

    • (I) Completely able to perform usual activities of daily living (self-care, vocational, and recreational activities)
    • (II) Able to perform usual self-care and vocational activities, but limited in recreational activities
    • (III) Able to perform usual self-care activities, but limited in vocational and recreational activities
    • (IV) Limited in ability to perform usual self-care, vocational, and recreational activities

    If Tina was still in functional class I, and if she is a person who responds well to treatment, that also would explain her high activity level.

    Role Model

    Referring to her rheumatoid arthritis, Tina reportedly told her husband, "If it affects me 20 years later so be it. Right now, I'm going to live." That is precisely the positive attitude that is necessary to survive life with rheumatoid arthritis.

    Focusing on what you can do and not what you cannot do is imperative to coping with arthritis.

    Tina Wesson serves as a role model for people living with arthritis, a disease punctuated by ups and downs. Even if your physical ability has declined and you are not as strong as Tina, the message she is sending is clear -- live life to the fullest. Though the disease may have already narrowed the possibilities for you, grab on to what is still possible!


    Tina Wesson bios from cbs.com, people.com, planethollywood.com, arthritis.org

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