feardiceYou ask what do I know about arthritis medications? About 25 years worth of trying, failing, trying, failing and trying again until my joints went into remission. Yes, that’s a long time of trying and failing and a lot of that journey was fearful.

So when I see babies, toddlers, first graders, elementary school kids, junior high teens and freshman at college dealing with Juvenile Arthritis my heart breaks because so many of them have or will have this same journey to go through.

Some are very lucky and the first, second or third medication puts them in remission. Others take longer. And all along this JA journey is the fear of what are the side effects of these medications, especially the biologics that don’t have any long-term history. Or rather, I am that long-term history having been on a biologic for almost 16 years. What is the future? Should we be afraid?

Nobody can know the future at this point because it’s simply too early. But this is what I do know now. Don’t let your fear get in the way of your goals. Don’t let the fear be an obstacle that stands in the way of hope.

Every rheumatologist I talk to is positive about the future for JA. We have come a long, long way. Once you find the right medicine, or combinations of medicine you can halt damage. Damage that is often irreversible.

I was diagnosed in 1990. Kids diagnosed in that same year often ended up with extensive damage because there were no new treatments. Since 1997 the biologics have grown and expanded and today there are so many more options, so much more hope.

So fear? Yes, it’s ok to be afraid. But it’s not ok to let the fear stop you. I was fearful at times and you will be too, but we must all work hard to replace fear with hope. We must keep trying new treatments and combinations until that magical one works, or that new one comes down the research pipeline.

JA is a terrible disease. But the hope we have today is far more than the hope the past generations had. We have more options, more information, and better treatments. We have a ways to go, but we have also come so far, we can’t let the fear halt us now.

Jack Canfield said it best, “Everything you want is on the other side of fear.”


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