Okay, so rheumatoid arthritis actually never made its way into the story line of The Sopranos (at least not that I know of). That would have been interesting if it had though. I can see it now…
Tony Soprano: “Christopher, I need you to ‘take care’ of Johnny…”
Christopher: “But I can’t Uncle Tony…my hands hurt WAY TOO much…I can’t even pick up a gun right now, much less strangle the guy!”
All joking aside though, Aida Turturro (b. September 25, 1962), who played Janice Soprano – the sister of mob boss Tony Soprano – lives with rheumatoid arthritis in real life. (I’ve watched every episode of The Sopranos, and I can honestly say that Janice Soprano was one of my favorite characters.)
Aida Turturro was first diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis when she was 12 years old. Turturro’s earliest memories of the pain associated with the disease are connected to a family vacation at the beach at Martha’s Vineyard. Unable to walk from excruciating pain, she had to be carried to the water by her father. Following a visit to the doctor, Turturro was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis but little was offered in terms of treatment options.
Turturro lived with the pain, continued in school, and later began working. Admittedly, she did not understand the consequences of her diagnosis initially and was even unaware that a rheumatologist is a specialist and expert in treating rheumatoid arthritis and related diseases. All that has changed now for Turturro. She has become educated about her condition and realizes how vitally important that education is to fighting the disease.
In an interview with the Arthritis Foundation, Aida stated, “I’m lucky because my disease hasn’t progressed too far. Sometimes I have good days, sometimes I am in a lot of pain – but I never really let my RA stop me from doing the things I want to do. I know that there are alot of people out there for whom the disease has progressed to a debilitating stage”.*
In the early 2000’s Aida Turturro served as a national spokesperson in an rheumatoid arthritis awarenes campaign that was co-sponsored by the Arthritis Foundation and Centocor.