Arthritis Foundation, Heartland Region, Nebraska

Allyson’s Story

Arthritis_AllyAllyson was diagnosed with juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) when she was just 3-years-old. Her diagnosis process was complicated, and she saw a number of physicians before a pain-induced seizure led them to diagnose her with JIA.

Now a teenager, Allyson suffers flares here and there and has difficulty keeping up with her peers. She is unable to run long distances, which briefly ended her career in running cross-country, but she remained active with the team as their manager, and may even compete again. She is also in debate and theater, enjoys swimming, reading, and writing poetry and short stories, and still finds time to volunteer in the community.

Allyson has big plans for her future. She hopes to one day have a successful career in law and publish a few books along the way. When the time is right, she hopes to run for Congress. This budding leader has a supportive family, which includes two dogs and her cat who she calls, “her cuddle buddy.”
For the last eight summers, Allyson has attended Juvenile Arthritis Camp and calls the experience, “unforgettable.” She went on to say, “It feels good to share my story and let people know they are not alone. I want to reach out to others and help them cope with arthritis.”

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Zoe’s Story

ZoeZoe Jo is a young girl with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis. When she was 2-years-old, her daycare teacher noticed that she didn’t run around with the other kids and had a hard time sitting “criss cross applesauce.” She was then taken to her pediatrician who diagnosed Zoe with arthritis and sent her to Children’s Hospital in Omaha for treatment.

It took several medication trials and almost two years before a suitable treatment was found to help Zoe not walk as though her body had seen many more years of life!

Zoe is an amazing little girl. She loves to do yoga, dance, read, and play all kinds of sports. She has a huge imagination and has big plans for herself. She wants to be a professional surfer someday.
Even though it is hard living with arthritis, Zoe’s attitude remains positive. Having been chosen as a Lincoln Arthritis Walk Honoree has been such an amazing experience for her. She recently got up enough courage to make a presentation to her class about her disease. She was presented with many questions and answered them all like a pro. Zoe’s courage reflects the courage of each of the 1,800 youth in Nebraska that suffer from arthritis. Zoe said, “I don’t believe in the words ‘Can’t do it’, because I know I can do things I love”.

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Carley’s Story

Arthritis_CarleyCarley was diagnosed with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA) in July 2012, right before she started kindergarten. There are days when gym class is too difficult and her teacher allows her to sit down, but Carley is proud that she can jump rope.

Today, Carley is meeting her challenges head-on and is working to regain motion in her right knee. She remains as active as possible and enjoys her swimming lessons. Carley also likes to color, do craft projects, play with Legos and play basketball.

Carley has a younger sister, Helen, and hopes one day to get a fish for a pet. Her favorite subject in school is writing, and she hopes to become a teacher when she is all grown up.

When asked about her hopes for the future, Carley said, “I hope that my arthritis goes into remission.” This courageous seven-year-old girl has enjoyed meeting other kids with arthritis and said, “I want to let everyone know that kids get arthritis, too.”

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Hudson’s Story

Arthritis_HudsonSeveral hours after Hudson’s brother Holten was born, his parents received a call from grandma saying that Hudson woke up with a limp that day. They figured Hudson slept or played wrong, but after several occurrences of Hudson struggling to walk after naps or in the morning, it was painfully obvious that it was more than that. After Hudson’s pediatrican took X-rays and blood work, they were referred to a doctor at Omaha’s Children’s Hospital.

At the appointment, it did not take long to determine that Hudson had juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JIA). “We were scavenging through the Internet and other resources to gain as much information about JIA as possible. When we learned about the Arthritis Foundation, we immediately found the community we were looking for. We obtained a care package for Hudson, a book for us and the opportunity to help with sharing the message of JIA.”

Hudson was put on Naproxen for two months to see if that would help. But after it was obvious that it wasn’t working, he is now taking methotrexate (an injection given by mom weekly), steroids and a plethora of vitamins to counteract the side effects of the drugs.

Hudson’s diagnosis is something that has affected the whole family. “We have been blessed by their support.”

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Nadean’s Story

Arthritis_NadeanNadean has Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS) and osteoarthritis (OA). She has had AS since she was a child but was not formally diagnosed with AS until July 2010. As a child, her symptoms started as back pain, rib pain, irritable bowel syndrome, ulcerative colitis and swallowing difficulties. As she got older, her symptoms continued to worsen.

After getting a second opinion from another rheumatologist, she was tested for HLA-B27, and she had it. Her rheumatologist concluded that she had both AS and OA. She started on Biologic medications as well as anti-inflammatory medications. “I was like a new person,” she said. “I have my good days and my bad days, but I am learning to live one day at a time, and having a great, supportive family has made all the difference!”

Nadean became involved with the Arthritis Foundation in 2011 as an RN heading up the health office at Camp Spirit, a camp for children with juvenile arthritis (JA). She has been Camp Spirit’s nurse now for the last three years. “I cannot put into words how much I have learned from these amazing kids ages 8-15. “

Nadean continues to spread awareness about AS because most people have no idea what it is. “I am grateful for the Arthritis Foundation and I have learned so much. With proper funding for research, I strongly believe we will find a cure someday,” she said.

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