Taking up the fight against childhood arthritis
Photo by Lauren Baron, Brant News
Five-year-old Ethan Golden pictured with his mother, Helina Golden, at their Brantford home. Ethan and his family have started Team Ethan as a way to raise money and awareness for the Arthritis Society.
With a big, bright smile, Ethan Golden happily plays with coloured blocks and squeals with delight when he produces bubbles from a bright blue wand.
What seems typical for a five-year-old is a rare good day for the Agnes Hodge senior kindergarten student.
Golden was diagnosed with polyarticular juvenile idiopathic arthritis – an autoimmune disorder that causes inflammation in more than four joints – a year ago after contracting scarlet fever. While most children recover from the infection without issue, there are cases when scarlet fever can cause inflammatory diseases. Golden’s was one of those cases.
“At first he was just having problems walking,” his mother Helina Golden said. “He said it hurt to walk and quickly, within two weeks, he would wake up screaming in the morning because he couldn’t straighten his legs or arms. His knees had no range of motion, they would swell up and he couldn’t move them.
“He was a super independent four-year-old and he was crying at the top of the stairs asking us to take him down because it hurt too much.”
A year later, Golden takes a cocktail of medications and injections – including a low dose of chemotherapy – to keep the swelling at bay. He has days that are better than others, and others when he’s too sore to get out of bed or go to school.
He needs a wheelchair – which he calls a stroller because he doesn’t want to feel as if he’s dependent on it – when travelling long distances and often does his school work from home on his iPad because the act of writing proves too painful.
But Golden hasn’t given up hope. He believes there will be a cure for arthritis in his lifetime and he’s doing everything he can to help make that happen.
The five-year-old and his family have started Team Ethan as a way to raise money and awareness for the Arthritis Society and the upcoming Walk to Fight Arthritis on June 9 at the Royal Botanical Gardens in Burlington.
“Although Ethan is only five years old, he reminds us that he has arthritis and that arthritis doesn’t have him,” his father Scott Golden said.
Ethan is selling homemade beaded necklaces at a cost of $5 each and also trying to reach his goal of raising one million dimes for the cause.
In the last three weeks, he’s raised $540 plus more than 4,500 dimes. Through his Facebook page, Twitter account and Instagram, Ethan has attracted donors and admirers from as far away as Prince Edward Island, Colorado, California and the United Kingdom.
“Everyone is cheering him on and raising awareness,” his mother said.
Though the Golden family was shocked to learn that children could have arthritis, the diagnosis is not that uncommon. One in 1,000 children in Canada under the age of 16 have juvenile arthritis, according to the Arthritis Society.
“Many people are surprised to learn that children can develop arthritis, but it’s a different arthritis from the type that effects the elderly,” said pediatric rheumatologist Dr. Tania Cellucci, Golden’s doctor. “Raising awareness of childhood arthritis is important because it means that children will be diagnosed more quickly. Children do better when treatment is started early.”
Call 519-720-9628 or email email@example.com to purchase a necklace or donate dimes. Dimes are also being collected at Crock A Doodle Pottery and Painting Studio on Wayne Gretzky Parkway, Maurice’s in Lynden Park Mall and Serenity Candles on Holme Street.