Karen and Arthritis

Enemy Within - a new book by Karen Ager
now available World-wide

Click here to READ AN EXCERPT from Enemy Within

“I’ve thought a lot about my first IV infusion; about the isolation of disease and the loneliness of the moment when the sickly green curtain is pulled across and you’re shut out from the rest of the world. It’s a moment of no control; when there’s not much choice anymore, just a road map of what you have to do and a landscape of obstacles to overcome.” (From Enemy Within)

To the world around her, a young Karen Ager had an enviable life and future ahead – model looks, a killer body and an outgoing personality. But unknown to everyone, including Karen, she was carrying a crippling disease that would change the course of her life completely.

Diagnosed with an aggressive form of joint-destroying rheumatoid arthritis (RA) at 17, Karen Ager was told she would spend her life on an invalid pension, unable to accomplish anything due to the constant pain she would suffer. Now 45 years old, Karen enjoys a full life. She married the man of her dreams, teaches grade school children full time, exercises and advocates tirelessly for the millions who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis.

In the new book, Enemy Within, Australian Karen Ager shares her inspirational journey of personal suffering at the hands of fate, refusal to accept defeat and the discovery of a hidden gift that gave her a new purpose.

Arthritis is commonly considered an affliction of the elderly but the disease is actually far more widespread than that:

  • 46 million people in the USA live with some form of arthritis.
  • Two thirds of arthritis patients are under 65.
  • By the year 2030, an estimated 67 million Americans will suffer from arthritis.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is the most crippling form of the disease and affects 3 million adults and 2 to 3 times more women than men.
  • RA also affects 300,000 children in the US; this represents about 1 in 250 children.
  • Arthritis annually results in 9,367 deaths and 744,000 hospitalizations.

Despite her disease Karen refused to accept her prognosis, deciding there and then that she would not allow her life to be defined by her illness. She took off to travel the world and found herself in Hollywood, living a glamorous, jet-setting life working for a rock’n’roll legend and his supermodel wife. However, RA is not a kind travelling companion and the disease never gave up its continued assault on Karen’s health and her dreams.

At a moment when her hopes and health were fading, a profound message from a stranger caused her to re-evaluate her life. “It was time to ‘make a difference’,” she writes. “It was time to stop, think, write and help others.”

In 2001, she was given a revolutionary new biological drug that completely altered her quality of life, enabling her to do simple things that most people take for granted like brushing her hair or lifting something above her head without excruciating pain for the first time.

Using her profile built raising awareness about RA and her media savvy, Karen successfully campaigned back home in Australia for several drugs to be added to the pharmaceuticals benefits list, making them available and affordable for Australian sufferers in 2003.

Today, Karen continues to work relentlessly to raise public awareness of the disease, with regular media appearances and talks at fundraisers and advocacy events. She also runs a support group for people with arthritis in Manhattan.

Karen’s journey is one of heartbreak and humiliation, triumph and tragedy as she grapples with relationships, infertility, grief and her ultimate powerlessness to stop her disease, finally accepting it and discovering it to be a hidden gift as a catalyst for positive change.


Interwoven in the story of Karen’s life and battle with chronic disease are smaller stories which all readers will relate to. She explores:

  • The importance of preserving hope in your life.
  • The pain and the joy of living with and coping with a chronic disease.
  • The volatility of a mother and teenage daughter relationship and the increased pressure of having an illness thrown into the mix.
  • The sometimes inescapable cycle of domestic violence and how having a disability can make it even harder to leave.
  • The importance of family, even in Hollywood.
  • The obstacle course of marriage and loving, losing and loving again.
  • The humor, support and the joy of girlfriends.
  • Travelling and teaching around the world.
  • Lessons adults can learn from children.

Order now:

NEW: Read an excerpt

Listen to interviews with Karen:
with Margaret Throsby on ABC

on Evenings

See more media coverage.


What readers are saying:

A great read - inspirational and moving
I could not put it down... I feel this book is not only a must have read for any sufferer of RA, but for anyone who wants to gain the feeling that 'anything is possible'!

Story of courage and determination
What a treat, a story of courage and determination that is neither sweet nor preachy.

Karen Ager - angel in disguise!
Karen's book helped me find more inner strength, by helping me accept that this journey had only just begun and that it wouldn't be easy. By giving this book to friends and family, I could help them understand what was happening in my life.

Wonderful book!
As an RA patient myself... I've read many many books on RA and this one was the one I could relate to the most. There's a lot to learn from this book. The author doesn't sugarcoat any of it and shares from her heart... You will learn and you will root for her.

A must read!
A refreshing read, a page turner. I felt comforted to know that I am not the only one suffering with life's challenges.