Photographed by Santiago Avizu.


Marta has never been one to shy away from challenges; in fact, she has been known to say she likes them. Since being diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis at age 19, she has faced many obstacles with the debilitating face of this disease. But most often, she doesn’t even think of it. Marta always thought of herself as a little different, wanting to be a little different than the average person and she finds it interesting she contracted an illness that makes her look different. Her determination showed by going away to college and graduate school and working as a clinical social worker for 22 years with women who were HIV+. Marta is embarking on a new career as an elementary school teacher. This is a new focus; the kids stare and touch her deformed hands. Marta laughs and finds it bizarre, cute and thinks the kids will learn to be more open-minded from her difference. Her disease has taught her patience and toughness. She attributes her exceptional network of family and friends who are there for her unconditionally, “they hold me through the tough times.”

“Arthritis is just one part of me, I am much more. I am intelligent, humorous and enjoy people. When people ask me how I deal with it, well, what is my alternative, I don’t have a choice, I just deal and keep going on.”