Eight years ago, at the age of seven, I was diagnosed with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. After a few different hospital visits, my family and I settled on UNC Children's Hospital as the institution that would support me with my health issues. There, I first met my rheumatologist-to-be, Dr. Leonard Stein. Throughout my years of battling this autoimmune disease, Dr. Stein has been a very caring, concerned physician who has supported me through my difficulties. I have had numerous procedures and tests, including MRIs, blood work, joint injections, and X-rays, and I am currently on weekly injections of Enbrel. Through it all, Dr. Stein has been more than a physician; he has been a friend.
I like to stay involved, keep active at my school, Ravenscroft School, where I am a ninth grader. I am a percussionist in the band, playing the snare drums, timpani, and mallets. At this year's Central District Bandmasters Association All-District Band event, I placed first in my age group for timpani.
In 2009, my arthritis went into remission, and I was able to begin playing golf competitively on the North Carolina junior circuit. The remission was short lived, and in May of 2010, I suffered one of the worst flares of the disease since my diagnosis. With a lot of help from my physician and family, I am currently clinically free of arthritis and on the road to reducing my Enbrel injections.
In 2010, I felt that it was important to give back to this institution that has supported me over the years. I created and organized a golf fundraiser for NC Children's Promise and NC Children's Hospital. We were happy to be able to present a check for almost $8,000 to UNC Pediatrics. This year, I held my second annual fundraiser/golf tournament in May at UNC Finley Golf Course. My goal was to raise $10,000 and we far exceeded this goal and raised $15,000. And, just like last year, Dr. Stein not only be supported me as one of his patients, but also at my golf tournament as my friend. If you would see more about Jessica's event, go to http://golfforpromise.kintera.org.