I attended my first Juvenile Arthritis Conference last weekend in Washington, DC. What amazed me more than anything were the children that I met and spoke to. I was especially surprised to see some of them running and jumping much like any other child you’d see. Watching all these children, it was hard to believe any of them had any form of arthritis. In speaking with someone from the conference, I mentioned that, and she said that just 15 years ago it was a different story. Most of the children were in wheel chairs, but with the advent of biologic drugs, taken at an early age, these children now were either in remission or their symptoms were seriously curtailed.
I watched the children participate in a number of the events geared to the age levels that started at six and ran up to teen-age. No matter the age, they were all excited to be back among friends from previous conferences who were just like them. For a moment they didn’t feel different.
One of the events was a trio of sessions with Byron Janis entitled, “Mind Over Matter” attended by three age groups of children. It was amazing to see how he interacted with the children and how he captivated them. He explained to them how he was stricken with psoriatic arthritis in his hands and wrists and how he used his mind to overcome adversity so he could continue his career.
The closing ceremony featured Byron speaking to the parents. He spoke of how privileged he was to be working with such courageous children sharing the same techniques that he had learned during his 40 year career. He also touched on the need for government funding for research because he believes that one day a cure will be found.