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|Nyla Mensah is in 3rd grade at Diamond Elementary School and is an energetic girl who participates in soccer, basketball, Girls Scouts, and Girls on the Run. To those who don’t know her she appears to be just like any other active and healthy 8 year old girl, yet because of her psoriatic arthritis, she struggles daily in ways many can’t see. |
Nyla first exhibited symptoms of arthritis at 3 years old with an unexplained swollen toe. Months later, she began having swelling and pain in her knee and was officially diagnosed with arthritis at four. Years later, after some recurring skin issues, it was determined to be psoriatic arthritis, an autoimmune disease that affects both the joints and skin.
Nyla does not remember life without arthritis, so life to her has always been marked with periods of chronic pain, swollen joints, medication and their negative side effects, specialist visits and medical procedures. She has dealt with many physical ailments; however, arthritis is not limited to affecting only the body. After a rough patch earlier this year that limited her activity, Nyla struggled emotionally with her “body attacking itself and being broken,’ and feeling different and alone. Fortunately, at this time, her family learned of a summer camp sponsored by the Arthritis Foundation for kids similarly struggling with illness. After 5 nights of camp, Nyla came back more positive, no longer feeling alone, and begging to go back next year. Shortly after she said, “You know what mom, there aren’t many good things about arthritis but at least I got to go to camp. That’s the only good thing there is.”
For Nyla and everyone with arthritis, there will be struggles; however, those who know Nyla know she is a fighter and she is not a complainer. Just like she’s fierce on the soccer field, she fiercely fights through letting arthritis affect her quality of life. And luckily she has great doctors, effective medications, supportive friends and family, and the Arthritis Foundation to support her in this fight. You can fight with her by joining Nyla’s Dashers and participating with her at the Jingle Bell Run or by making a donation to the Arthritis Foundation.