Ten-year-old Cheyanne Campo of Woodhaven has achieved a lofty goal, despite – and because of – a sometimes painful disease. She raised close to $600 for the Arthritis Foundation and participated in the organization’s annual Arthritis Walk on June 23 in Manhattan.
Campo has juvenile arthritis, which causes pain and swelling in her knees and other joints. Juvenile arthritis is an umbrella term that refers to various autoimmune and inflammatory conditions that can develop in children ages 16 and younger.
Campo was only three years old when her parents knew something was terribly wrong. It was Christmas day, and her knee was painfully swollen. Her father had to carry her down the stairs so she could open her presents.
Over the years, she has maintained a positive attitude and nowadays devotes much time to educating others about juvenile arthritis. Thanks to specialized care and treatment by a pediatric rheumatologist at Hospital for Special Surgery in Manhattan, Campo is living life as a happy 10 year old. Hospital for Special Surgery also supported the Arthritis Walk, raising close to $20,000 for the Arthritis Foundation, with 195 staff members taking part in the event.
Dr. Emma Jane MacDermott, Campo’s rheumatologist, says medical advances have enabled many young patients to live life to the fullest.
“When a child is diagnosed with juvenile arthritis, many parents are worried and upset,” MacDermott said. “They are thinking about a future for their child full of problems, and we really like to reassure parents that’s not the case. A lot of parents worry that their children shouldn’t be in sports, they won’t be able to take part in physical activity, and that’s often not the case.”
Although her knees occasionally hurt, Campo has little time to rest. She was busy getting ready for the Arthritis Walk, recruiting family and friends. They sported T-shirts that said “Team Cheyanne” during the 3.5-mile trek.
“On the back of the T-shirt it says ‘Walking for a Cure’ so they can find a cure for kids like me with juvenile arthritis and anyone else, because it’s hard for us to do activities sometimes, especially during the winter,” Campo explained. “When I get sick, my knee bothers me with the rest of my body.”
But an intravenous treatment every six months helps her feel much better.
“All the medicine is working, it’s helping me a lot. I can usually play in the gym and at recess.”
Like many kids her age, Campo likes to run and jump rope.
Medications help tremendously, according to MacDermott.
“Parents should be encouraged and feel that they can let their children lead normal lives, attend school and behave as normal children.”
When asked what she would tell other children newly diagnosed with juvenile arthritis, her advice is wise beyond her years.
“You don’t have to be that scared because after a while you’ll know it’s just a small part of your life, and you’ll just believe that it’s not even there. It’s going to be hard at first, but then it’s going to get better and better and better.”
To watch an interview with Cheyanne and Dr. MacDermott, visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mxRf7fGIUA4