Since his diagnosis with rheumatoid arthritis at age 30, Pete Scalia has been a very vocal advocate for the Arthritis Foundation. As adult honoree of this year's Jingle Bell Run, Pete hopes to dispel the myth that arthritis is a "little old lady's disease" and invites all of Central Ohio to have some fun, make some noise and join him (and his team Scalia's Superheroes) to be a Champion of Yes!
Systemic Onset Idiopathic Juvenile Arthritis (SOIJA)
When Giana was 8 years old, she had what everyone thought was a common cold. It turned out to be much more. Giana was diagnosed with systemic onset idiopathic juvenile arthritis (SOIJA). This was uncharted territory for Giana and her family. Everything she had learned in her eight years proved trivial. Her whole life was turned upside down.
Giana experienced many changes in the weeks leading up to her diagnosis. She had a very high fever, aches all over her body and a significant amount of weight loss. She underwent a multitude of tests and procedures including blood tests, an echocardiogram, CT scan, bone scan and ultrasounds of her heart. She and her parents also met with oncology, hematology and rheumatology doctors. It seemed like every time Giana saw a doctor, they wanted to stick another needle in her or perform another new test. This was very difficult for Giana as she had never had a single blood draw prior to getting her cold. To this day, the sight of a needle causes Giana great fear and anxiety.
Giana's family was relieved to have a diagnosis, but saddened by the fact that this disease was something she would more than likely have for the rest of her life. After several rounds of treatments including injections and infusions, Giana finally started to feel better and more like her old self. She began to play again with her friends and, over time, began weaning off some of her medications.
Today, Giana still receives infusions every three weeks and takes other medications. Thankfully, these treatments have controlled her SOIJA. Occasionally she will experience swelling in her joints that requires injections but the only real reminder she has of arthritis is her routine doctor appointments. She spends time with friends and participates in other activities pain free and without worry. It was a long road to get to this point, with many ups and downs.
As the Jingle Bell Run honoree, Giana hopes to help other kids going through the same disease know that they are NOT ALONE in this battle. She has gladly accepts this opportunity to advocate for her peers and fundraise for a cure.