The obituary, which ran Sunday, read, “… died of complications of rheumatoid arthritis.” It went on to say that Barbara Butler, after being diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, went back to school at age 40 to get her masters and start a career as a psychotherapist who specialized in working with individuals living with chronic and life-threatening illnesses. She was quoted as saying, “Even if I end up in a wheelchair, I will be able to work and help other people in situations similar to mine.”

I did not know Barbara Ann Butler, but I feel her loss as a member of a larger community of those of us who struggle with chronic disease. Her passing has underscored two profound truths: (1) rheumatoid arthritis can be fatal; and (2) even as you struggle with your own illness, it is possible to help others.

Rest in peace.