Hi there! My name is Jill and I first became involved in the Chronic Illness Community when I was just a wee-one! After being diagnosed with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis when I was 13 months old, my father enrolled me in many community programs to meet others like me.
I made my first TV debut when I was 9 to talk about living with JRA with my Pediatric Rheumatologist, Dr. Alario, on the news. From there, I met some pen pals (I’m dating myself here) and joined them at the Jingle Bell Run, earning my first medal after placing first in my age category. After my second Jingle Bell Run, I took a break from this community and was pretty much in denial about having the disease.
I made a lot of mistakes that directly impacted my Rheumatoid Arthritis as a teenager. It wasn’t until after my first year of college that I realized I had a disease that I would be impacted by for the rest of my life. I chose to get out there again and find others like me, so I volunteered at Camp Dartmouth-Hitchcock. It was that week that dramatically changed my life.
The kids were just like me, some even taking the same medications or having the same Arthritis jokes. I wish I had taken advantage of camps and other programs like Camp DH in my teen years. Since I can’t reverse time, I continue to move towards my goal of improving our community of chronically ill patients and their families by answering questions based on my personal experiences.
While I am no medical expert or therapist, I know this disease more than most patients. I have spent countless hours researching pediatric psychology of autoimmune diseased patients as well as have directly worked with these patients, improving my understanding of the gaps in our medical system.
I am here to help you find the resources you need, ask the right questions, take a different path than I did in my teen years, and just to be heard.
I am here for you as Chronically Jill because I wish someone had been there for me during some of the most confusing and difficult health periods of my life. I’ve walked in your shoes and I will continue to walk along side you on your own health journey.
Thanks for stopping by and I look forward to hearing from each of you!