Meaghan Victory grew up in an active family that spent their summers camping and hiking, and winters in the snowy mountains next to their Issaquah, Washington home.
When she was around eight years old, Meaghan was involved in a sledding accident and sprained her right wrist. For six months after the accident, the pain in her wrist never went away. While on vacation in the summer, her mother was putting sunscreen on her arm and noticed Meaghan in significant pain. Unsure of what was going on, her pediatrician referred Meaghan to Seattle Children’s Hospital where she was diagnosed with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis at the young age of nine years old.
After the initial JRA diagnosis, Meaghan says, “Life was good and since the arthritis was primarily confined to my right wrist, I was able to continue playing sports, running and staying active.”
In high school, the road got a little tougher and Meaghan was ill during her junior and senior years. In her senior year, she broke her right wrist and was in a cast for over six months. When her wrist wasn’t healing, her doctors found an infection and did surgery to remove a third of her ulna. Meaghan would go through two additional surgeries on her right wrist – a joint replacement and joint fusion – to help correct the damage. Luckily, Meaghan is a lefty, so was able to persevere and continue her studies.
During her many visits to Seattle Children’s, a nurse there recommended the family get involved with the Arthritis Foundation. Meaghan and her mom decided to run in the Seattle Jingle Bell Run, and have been participating every year since, forming a team and raising funds for a cure. To date, Team Victory has raised over $110,000!
Meaghan has been both a camper and counselor at KAT-Fish Camp in Washington, traveled to Washington DC for the Arthritis Foundation Advocacy Summit where she was awarded the National Emerging Leader Award in 2015. She has also served as a speaker at local events, including “Rheumapalooza,” a conference held at the University of Washington’s School of Medicine for students focused on rheumatology.
At present, Meaghan is a junior at Gonzaga University in Spokane where she is majoring in nursing. Meaghan says, “Ever since I was in elementary school, I wanted to be a nurse – way before I even received my diagnosis. While I have spent more time than most at doctor appointments and in hospitals, it has only inspired me to follow through with my nursing degree.”
Meaghan is currently taking her upper division coursework and participating in clinicals one day a week. Her pediatric clinicals involve working with kids at the local elementary schools, conducting vision and hearing tests. Meaghan beams, “working with kids is a big self-esteem booster, because they’re in awe of the nurses when we walk in. I’m having a lot of fun, especially since I would like to go into pediatric nursing.”
While the heavy toll of studying for classes and clinicals make her susceptible to illness and fatigue, Meaghan has made adjustments to her schedule to ensure she has enough time to rest and recover. Sometimes it means spending a weekend in or saying no to going out with friends, but Meaghan has her sights set on her bright future.
After graduation, Meaghan plans on moving to Seattle where she hopes to become a nurse at Seattle Children’s Hospital. When asked about her desire to work in a place she spent so much time as a patient, Meaghan articulates, “I believe I have a different outlook going into nursing because I have been a patient all these years and ultimately, this disease has helped me in a different way. I look forward to working with children and their families, especially knowing what it’s like to be in their shoes. It’s a different angle, but one that I know I can use to help patients and their families.”