Written by CCAA Executive Committee member, Jazmin Scarlett. Jazmin has suffered with Juvenile Arthritis all her life. She tells us her inspirational story
“I have had Systemic Onset Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis for 23 years now. It was tough having flare-ups and fevers, hospital appointments, steroids, methotrexate and physio and hydrotherapy. Of course, this was on top of growing up as a kid and a teenager. I loved school and learning, when I was younger it was art and geography, but as the arthritis got worse in my right wrist, my interest in art lessened and my passion for geography and science grew.
“It is not often a child develops JIA as young as I did, but having it for so long, puts my experiences different to those that may develop the condition later. Because I grew up with it, I have always known my body to be in pain but, developed a high pain threshold. I grew up quiet and introverted, but not afraid to ask for help and socialise when my energy levels are good enough, and I have grown up to be very empathic to other people’s pain. I am unsure if I would have these personality traits if I did not have JIA.
“My passion for geography has stuck with me since being hospitalised for months on end in Great Ormond Street Hospital when I was very young, and I took it at GCSE level, A Level, undergraduate level, master level and now PhD level.
“Becoming a volcanologist is not just fulfilling a life dream, but a statement to the JIA community that no matter what you want to be in life, it can be done despite the condition.
“Today my condition is manageable, just have to worry about chronic pain and chronic fatigue.
“As an executive committee member of this wonderful charity that helped my family and I so long ago, I am doing everything I can to show parents, with a JIA child, the empowerment of understanding the condition and what support can be given.
“My advice is to continue supporting and giving your children a positive and nurturing attitude, but once they get older, hand over responsibility and ‘let go’ to allow them to grow into a wonderfully independent young adult.
“For the child with JIA, I aim to be living proof that JIA is just part of you, and you should get on achieving what you want to be despite of it.”