According to a story from gopresstimes.com, Lily Laurent, a 13 year old student at De Pere middle school in Wisconsin, has lived with juvenile idiopathic arthritis for nine years. While her experiences as a patient have been difficult, Lily doesn’t let her diagnosis control her entire life. Through years of struggle with various medications and injections to control the symptoms, she has finally reached a place where her disease is no longer out of control.
About Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA)
Juvenile idiopathic arthritis is a rare form of arthritis that primarily affects children and teens. While it is known that the disease is autoimmune in origin (meaning that the immune system begins to attack healthy tissue by mistake), what triggers the beginning of the autoimmune response is not known. Any disease considered “idiopathic” does not have an identified cause. Some risk factors for juvenile idiopathic arthritis include being female and a family history of the disease. Symptoms include limping, vague flu-like symptoms, fatigue, loss of appetite, swelling of the joints, joint pain and stiffness, growth problems, and eye inflammation. Juvenile idiopathic arthritis can also lead to complications such as vision problems, osteoporosis, joint deformities, and contractures. Treatment approaches often include physical therapy, NSAIDs, corticosteroids, and certain chemotherapy agents that suppress the immune system. Surgery may be necessary in severe cases. To learn more about juvenile idiopathic arthritis, click here.
As the doctors tried different therapies in an attempt to control her symptoms, Lily developed a lot of fear around her treatment, which included joint injections, at-home injections, and the chemo agent methotrexate, which often caused her highly unpleasant side effects such as nausea.
Thankfully, some of her anxiety around treatment has gone away as her condition has improved. She takes a biologic treatment and also gets infusions every eight weeks.
Though her symptoms are mostly under control, Lily still finds life with the autoimmune disease challenging. While arthritis symptoms can improve when patients live active lives, fatigue and pain can make exercise difficult. One of Lily’s favorite activities is golf, which she enjoy with her friends. She also enjoys bike rides and artistic pursuits like painting and drawing.
Lily’s life may not be “normal” to most people, but her arthritis doesn’t keep her down for long.