A Ballinakill teenager living with arthritis is asking people to support Arthritis Ireland.
Kaitlin Fenelon has completed the charity’s 30 in 30 fundraiser to generate much needed funds to support people with arthritis.
She has raised nearly €1,000 to date. The Heywood Community School student was diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis (PsA) in 2019.
The 17-year-old is one of a team of people throughout the country who have been raising funds by running, jogging, walking or cycling 30km over the 30 days of June.
The pain started in her jaw and knees, with the symptoms being severe enough to impact her preparations for the junior certificate mock exams last year.
Even after being diagnosed, it took several months before she had a treatment which worked for her.
“The pain is more bearable now,” she said, “but I can feel it on my wrists and back at present.”
“After being diagnosed with arthritis, I was very confused. I didn’t know how to handle my pain and it had a huge impact on my mental health.
“I attended a course organised by Arthritis Ireland and can’t describe how much it helped me. I want to fundraise, so that they have the resources to organise more courses and help more people that are as confused as I was,” she stated.
In addition to seeing a rheumatologist at the Midland Regional Hospital, Tullamore, Kaitlin also meets with a specialist nurse who helps her deal with her PsA in everyday life.
The staff and students at her school have also been a great support, she said.
Anyone wishing to support Kaitlin’s fundraising can do so via the Arthritis Ireland website.
Nearly one million people are living with arthritis in Ireland, including 1,200 children.
Psoriatic arthritis is an autoimmune disease, a form of inflammatory arthritis that can cause pain, swelling and sometimes damage to any joint in the body.
It is an unusual arthritis because it can look very different from person to person.
Arthritis Ireland chief executive, Gráinne O’Leary said: “We’re working incredibly hard to meet the needs of people with arthritis at this challenging time.
“Our self-management classes and exercise programmes are now online, and we’re developing further initiatives to support people where they’re at.
“Our helpline and online fora have been valuable sources of trusted information for people.”
Fundraising income at the charity has been “significantly impacted” by the pandemic, said O’Leary.
“The extraordinary generosity of the public enables us deliver services for people with arthritis all over the country.
We’ve had to cancel or postpone our scheduled fundraising activity, so 30 in 30 is a safe, healthy and fun way to support our work at this challenging time.”