Joe was diagnosed with juvenile arthritis when he was six years old which left him unable to walk at times, but thanks to research and the development of a new drug, he’s now a fit 14-year-old who stars for his local football team.
“When I was about six years old I had really painful joints which left me being unable to walk at times. I remember going to my local hospital and being diagnosed with juvenile arthritis, it was really horrible. I was in hospital for a few weeks and felt isolated away from my friends.
Arthritis – not just something only old people get
My mum and dad were really shocked as arthritis is something that you think only old people get, I know my granddad has it in his fingers. You don’t think that a six year old could have it.
After being diagnosed, I was put on a number of different drugs and steroids. It wasn’t great as one of the drugs, methrotexate, used to make me sick every Friday night that I took it and I would get out of breath quite easily if running about.
A new treatment for juvenile arthritis
However, it was during a trip to the hospital that I was told about a new drug trial for something called canakinumab. It was a bit scary at first as it was a brand new drug but the alternative was daily injections, so I was eager to try it!
The difference the drug has made to my life is amazing. Friends that I’ve made over the last few years don’t even know I’ve got arthritis as the drug manages my condition so well.
I run around every weekend playing defensive midfield for my local football team and sometimes get to Arsenal games with my dad.
One of the best things that the drug has done for me is it means I miss less school and seeing my friends. I want to go to university and work for the Metropolitan Police when I’m older so it’s great that research and this new drug has opened up these options for me.
The work that Sparks funds is so important. It’s helping children like me all over the country and I’m so grateful.”