Our sweet girl Amy was recently diagnosed with a rare form of arthritis that affects children.
Many people mistakenly think arthritis is just a disease of the elderly, but the statistics tell a different story. About three in 1,000 Canadian children have childhood arthritis (JIA). You may have heard of the medical term "juvenile idiopathic arthritis” and wondered what it means. “Idiopathic” simply means “unknown.” This word is used when other illnesses known to cause arthritis have been ruled out as the cause of a child’s arthritis.
We don't know what caused this and there is no known cure.
So what does this mean for Amy?
JIA is an autoimmune disease, meaning Amy’s immune system is basically attacking her body. The plan is to attempt to reset her immune system. Her treatment involves Methotrexate a disease-modifying immunosuppressant antirheumatic drug. Methotrexate is an aggressive drug that can cause nausea and vomiting; some kids also feel sleepy, fatigued and generally unwell after taking it. The drug is designed to weaken Amy’s immune system so it will stop attacking itself, which will also mean she will be more susceptible to illness and may not be up for as many things as she used to be.
The long and short of it is...she is going to sick before she gets better. Complications from JIA are many, and if not appropriately treated this can mean permanent damage. The other tricky thing is that there is no quick fix for JIA. This treatment plan is designed to take about three years to be fully effective and even then..there are no guarantees. As the prevalence of arthritis increases, so does the demand for investment into cutting-edge research, proactive advocacy and innovative information and support that will deliver better health outcomes for people affected by arthritis.
The bright side is that while JIA may cause joint damage, the bones and cartilage of growing children have amazing abilities to heal. While there is no cure for JIA, the therapies that exist can be effective. We are lucky to be working with an excellent team of medical professionals at the McMaster Children’s Hospital to give Amy her best shot at remission and recovery.
So what does this mean for us (Amy’s friends and family)?
We encourage you to join us in our commitment to help Amy lead a life without limits. She is too little to know she is sick, and we are determined to help her become as resilient and happy as possible.
This is where we need your help.
Please keep inviting us to things and don’t forget about Amy. While we may not always be able to attend and may have to cancel last minute, it doesn’t mean we don’t love you and don't want to be there. Keep checking in, coming for visits and playing with Amy. She needs to stay as active as possible to beat this thing and playing with other kids (and super fun adults) is usually the best medicine on a bad day.
Please donate, if you can. Every bit helps.
If you have had the pleasure of spending time with Amy, you will know that she is strong, happy and hilarious. She loves the outdoors, swimming, reading and most of all...she loves her friends and family. She deserves to be healthy and deserves love and support. So we are asking you today to please help us to support the Arthritis Society and Amy! If you would like to join our team and walk with us in Toronto we would love to have you by our side. Just let us know.
We are walking because there is no cure for arthritis – a painful and devastating disease. We are walking for Amy.
This year the Walk for Arthritis is celebrating its 10th year - help make this the best year ever by making a donation to support this important cause!
Thank you for reading our story and thank you for your continued love and support.
Amy, Beatrice & John