By Maya Miserlian
My name is Maya Miserlian, I’m 15 years old, and I am one of 300,000 children in the US with juvenile arthritis (JA).
At the age of 11 I was diagnosed with Chronic Recurrent Multifocal Osteomyelitis (CRMO), a rare bone disease that is one of the many diseases included in the definition of arthritis umbrella. My diagnosis came after over a year of being told my aching bones were just ‘growing pains’. CRMO affects one in every million people, which has left me feeling alone in the past, because I did not know anyone else with my diagnosis. In the past year I was introduced to the Arthritis Foundation, which has played a big role in my journey with CRMO. I advocate for arthritis as a Junior Ambassador for the Foundation, which has allowed me to take control of my disease and advocate for myself and others with JA. I consider myself lucky – because I live near my specialist and was able to get on medication that works, I reached remission only three years after my diagnosis. However, easy access to a specialist is not a reality for most people.
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From Ethan Berkovitz
My name is Ethan Berkovitz, I am a 16-year-old high school sophomore and my favorite sports are soccer and futsal, a type of indoor soccer with five players per team. I play on the U.S. Youth Futsal 16-and-under National Team, and this summer I got to compete and represent our country in Costa Rica. I have been playing soccer since I was 3 years old – and I have juvenile arthritis.
I didn’t always have juvenile arthritis. It all started when I was 8 years old, when I started having pain in my legs, hands and wrists. I thought I was having growing pains, but it got worse and worse in just a few short months. I couldn’t even walk down the stairs, or to the bus stop, so my dad had to carry me. Sometimes, I didn’t make it to school because I didn’t feel very well and I would get fevers, so I felt really sick. I loved playing all kinds of sports back then with my friends and I was on lots of different teams. I also would ride my bike, skateboard, rollerblade and much more.
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