Sweet Sara

Along with so many others, I am sad today as a dear friend, Sara Frankl, is nearing the end of her life.

Sara has inspired thousands of people through her blog Gitzen Girl, about her journey with Ankylosing Spondylitis and her daily decision to Choose Joy. I found Sara's blog years ago and was fascinated to read her posts as she was the first person I had ever heard of with AS, other than my dad. She was a woman (AS used to be thought of as a men's disease) and she was just a handful of years older than me. I loved her red curls, her beautiful eyes and smile, her heart, her story, and most of all, her attitude.

She has been such a blessing to me, especially since I began my own journey with AS. Little did I know, those years ago, that we would share this disease.

While Ankylosing Spondylitis is known for attacking the spine and other joints, it can also become systemic and effect organs such as the heart and lungs. That is what happened in Sara's case.

Sara has been very ill and recently found out that her organs are shutting down. She is at home, with hospice care, surrounded by her large, loving family and her sweet little dog, Riley, who has been her constant companion.

Sara, you are so loved. You will be missed. We will not forget what you've shown us about life.
No more pain, no more sickness, no more tears, Sweet Friend.


  1. Sara and her family and friends are in my thoughts and prayers. I'm very sorry.

    Once again you've created beautiful art. I love how you combine differen media. I like the colors and the shimmer. Love the depiction of the beach with such simple, eloquent strokes.

    Love you! Wendy

  2. How heartbreaking :( She sounds like a wonderful friend and example... will be praying for her friends and family, and for you too. *Hugs*

  3. Sara's writing has been a blessing in my life and I will mourn her passing- but what a celebration there will be in Heaven as she arrives- we all long to be in the loving arms of our Saviour!
    May God bless her and you for being her friend, and may you know the Holy Spirit the Comforter close beside you:}

  4. Oh Jennifer ... what a beautiful post and moving tribute to Gitz. I loved the way you described her from hair to eyes to heart! The art you created in her honor is also beautiful.


  6. Jennifer, I enjoy your blog for several reasons, the main one being that I have AS too. I was delighted to read the statement that "AS used to be thought of as a man's disease", although I was saddened to reason of the things that your friend Sara had to go through. It has always been my understanding that AS hitting other organs as it did her was very rare. I am 46, had it since I was 19, but didn't get diagnosed until in my late 20's, but had some severe attacks that left me unable to walk for a long time, and one left me unable to sit up in bed without help. Yet doctors found nothing wrong. I was adopted and met a half-brother I never knew I had until in my late 20's. When we told me about AS, it was the first time I'd heard of it and when he share with me how it affected him, his symptoms and what it was, I knew right away that that was what I had. I went to his rheumatologist who did an HLA-B27 (or is it 25) test. Even though many with AS are negative, thankfully, I was positive because that, along with symptoms and now family history is how I was finally diagnosed; even still at that time it was considered to "mainly affect men and when women did have it, it was much milder". Any disease that leaves a person unable to walk isn't mild to me! Today I have AS, MS, Sjogrens, UC, some type of lung disease, MCTD and dysautonomia, among others. I saw the post for a women grieving for her baby, was that due to AS? I had a complicated C-section, my daughter was still born and had CPR done on her- at 2.7 pounds. Sorry I wrote so much, interesting to me when another woman has it, but sad to see the devestating effects it has on so many. Thanks for the blog!

  7. Wow Bee,
    What a story!

    I do not know what caused my miscarriage. It may have been related to my thyroid levels, but I have no way to know. SO sorry for everything you have been through. Thank you for reading my blog and leaving me a comment.



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