Sarah – Diagnosed with JIA


Q: In what city/province do you live in?

A: I live in Campbellton, New Brunswick

 

Q: How old were you when you were first diagnosed with JIA?  How old are you now?  What grade are you in at school?

A: I was diagnosed with JIA two days before my 14th birthday. I’m 17 now and in grade 11.

Q: What kind of physical activities or sports do you like to take part in?

A: I love hockey, tennis, and working out at the gym.

 

Q: Tell us how having arthritis affects your ability to be physically active or do sports.  What motivates you to try to take part in some physical activity or sports on days that you don’t feel like it?  What motivates you to be active on days that you don’t feel like it?

A: Despite the joint pain, my arthritis has never stopped me from being active. I’ve played hockey and tennis all my life, and I’ve always been in good shape. I don’t want to stop playing sports because I know that doing nothing would be just as or even more painful. I tell myself that rather than sitting at home in pain, I might as well take my mind off it and keep my joints moving, which helps with the stiffness. I also work out to keep my muscles strong. On days that I don’t feel so well, I keep myself going by telling myself I can’t give up. If I’m in pain, I slow down but I never stop moving.

 

Q: Why do you think it is important for kids/youth/teens with arthritis to be physically active?

A: Staying active following a diagnosis of JIA has many advantages, like keeping all your joints moving, which prevents stiffness and strengthens the muscles surrounding the joints. Even more important, staying active makes you feel more normal. You should never feel limited by JIA. Also, staying active is good for your self-esteem.

Q: What advice would you give to other kids/youth/teens with arthritis who might find it hard to take part in physical activity?

A: Never give up! Keep going and keep setting goals for yourself. Never be afraid to try something. If you’re sore, slow down, but don’t give up. The harder you try, the more likely you are to reach your goals. Before I was diagnosed with JIA, I played boys’ AAA contact hockey; I was one of only three girls in New Brunswick to play at that level. I even played on the girls’ Atlantic Select team. Despite the pain and the treatments, I’ve never given up, I’ve stayed focused on my goals, I’ve trained even harder. I’ve slowed down when I needed to, but I’ve never given up. The results have been amazing. Now, I feel just as physically fit as someone who doesn’t have JIA. I honestly believe that if I hadn’t played sports, I’d be in a lot more pain today.