Call it mother’s intuition. When Nicole Doyle woke up one morning with an unexpectedly swollen, hot and painful finger, her mother knew something was wrong. Even though Nicole’s pediatrician initially dismissed the thumb mystery as an injury caused by play, Nicole’s mom kept pressing for answers.
“We went to doctor after doctor, eventually ending up at an adult rheumatologist due to the fact that only about 250 pediatric rheumatologists exist in the entire United States,” recalls Nicole, now 18 years old. “As a three year old, I did not want to be there and have them examining me. I just wanted to go back home and play with my brother.”
Nicole’s visit with the adult rheumatologist is a day she will never forget.
Continue reading From Methotrexate to Miss Teen Minnesota: Nicole Finds Strength In Doing What She Loves
Ana Villafañe has come a long way since she first belted out the Gloria Estefan song, “Reach” at the Arthritis Foundation’s juvenile arthritis camp, Camp Funrise, in Miami, Fla., at the age of 9. The rising star, now 26, is portraying Estefan in a new Broadway musical, “On Your Feet!” about the legendary singer’s life. If that weren’t enough, she’s also appearing in the summer movie, “Max Steel,” as well as the new Hulu series, “South Beach.”
Her mother, Carmen Villafañe, never anticipated such success when Ana battled her first systemic onset of life-threatening symptoms at age seven. “She had a fever of unknown origin, as high as 106, 107 degrees, consistently, for a month-and-a-half,” she says. “She also contracted secondary issues; her organs were shutting down. Finally, her rheumatologist Dr. Rafael Rivas-Chacon told me, ‘If you ever see a swollen joint, call me immediately.’ The day we were leaving the hospital, Ana said, ‘Mom, look at my knee,” and sure enough, it had blown up. Dr. Rivas-Chacon was back in ten minutes. That’s how she was finally diagnosed.”
Continue reading Ana Villafañe- “JA Doesn’t Define Me”