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Pianist Byron Janis  PHOTO: HULTON ARCHIVE/GETTY IMAGES

Juvenile Arthritis

By : BYRON JANIS
July 21, 2017

I too have to live with the pain and various side effects of arthritis, but as an adult. At the age of 45 in 1973, I was stricken with Psoriatic Arthritis in my fingers and wrists, an ominous warning sign for a concert pianist. With passion and perseverance, good medicine, and a lot of hard work I somehow learned how to handle it and have been rewarded with a 75 year career. So I am particularly personally involved whenever I sit and talk with children who are fighting to live with, and hopefully overcome, Juvenile Idiopathic (unknown) Arthritis (JIA). Challenges at a young age seem to bring out an incredible resilience of spirit and each time I am inspired by the courage and determination I see in these children.

Living with the physical pain of arthritis and dealing with some of its side effects is challenging indeed, to say nothing of the extra problems medication, while helpful, can cause. Depending on its severity and degree of pain, it can cause deformation of parts or all of our bodies, fatigue, depression and restricted movement, all making it a most insidious and cruel disease. It is still without any cure.

At one of the many benefits I performed for the Arthritis Foundation, I was taken to a hospital and met children in various stages of the disease. When I asked them what they wanted to be when they grew up, it was mostly to do with athletics, but with the severity of their arthritis, that surely would not be possible. I told them, “You must have more than one dream,” a motto which I have had to incorporate into my own life. I can’t give full length recitals anymore but my other dream which was to compose I now love as a great challenge to my creativity.

The more support the Arthritis Foundations’ research teams receive, the more quickly these 300,000 children with JA will be helped. I will be giving 20% of the royalties of a new recording that is planned to be released next February, just before my 90th birthday!

I thank you for reading this article.

Most sincerely,

Byron Janis