Anna Nolan-Pang (aged 30)
For as long as she can remember, arthritis has been present in Anna Nolan-Pang’s (30) life. She was diagnosed with juvenile arthritis (JA) at age 2 when treatments were less advanced and her future looked bleak. Here, she recounts her experience of the disease and outlines the importance and impact of research.
“As a child, I was in and out of flares all the time. It meant I missed a lot of school.
"My mum explained to my teachers about the arthritis but I was never able to tell my friends. I was just too embarrassed. As far as I was concerned arthritis was an old person’s disease so why did I have it? Looking back now I wish I’d been able to tell people sooner.
"It was only when I took part in the Arthritis Ireland calendar campaign in 2005 that I met other young people with arthritis and I started to gain confidence about being a young girl living with JA. After that campaign I wasn’t afraid to talk about it anymore. It really changed my life.
"Today I’m doing OK. I’d like to say I’m great but the arthritis is still there every day. Right now I’m doing nursing and currently on my placement in St Vincent’s Hospital. It’s hard going but I really do love it. Obviously it’s quite physical and sometimes the arthritis gets in the way but I’m determined to do it.
"Looking back on my childhood now, the level of understanding and treatments available really made it like a different world. If you were diagnosed with inflammatory arthritis you faced an uncertain future and there were genuine fears that you’d end up in a wheelchair. We’ve come a long way since then and that’s largely thanks to discoveries through research. Arthritis Ireland investing in research today gives me hope for a future free from arthritis.”