CHAMBERSBURG -- Playing with pain? Football players do it all the time.
A local cheerleader was living with so much pain once, she could barely brush her own hair.
Cortney Timmons cheers for the Chambersburg Cardinals, a professional team in the Gridiron Developmental Football League. She's what you'd expect her to be: young, fit and full of energy.
Just four years ago, however, Timmons, 25, was in constant pain. She felt as if she was the team's quarterback and had been sacked by a huge lineman. She couldn't even do simple things.
"Anything from walking to going up stairs, was a big problem," recalled Timmons.
Her problem was rheumatoid arthritis (RA), which is normally an issue for women much older than Timmons. There are approximately 1.3 million Americans who have RA; roughly 70 percent of those people are women, mostly between 40 and 60 years of age. Some researchers believe the odds of someone in their 20s developing the disease is 1 in 714 for women and 1 in 2,778 for men, according to RA.com.
Timmons' friends and family were stunned. "We didn't think someone at 21 (years-old) could get it," said Brandi Timmons, one of Cortney's sisters and also a Cardinals cheerleader. "But seeing her get (RA) actually opened our eyes to that."
That's why Cortney is so willing to tell her story -- she wants others to understand, as well.
The cause of rheumatoid arthritis is not known, but she is proof it can be treated. "Drugs do wonders," said Cortney, jokingly. "The arthritis medicine I take is wonderful."
The treatment includes an injection once every two weeks.
Cortney Timmons now has a lot to cheer about. She's no longer in pain.
"I think people think, just because you have (RA), it's like an end sentence and you can't be as active as I am," she added. "You can."