Published: Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Teen doesn't let arthritis keep her down

Middle schooler was diagnosed with the disease at the age of 9

By Deanna Duff
For The Enterprise
Daria Jamtaas, of Lynnwood, has arthritis at only 14 years old. Still, she enjoys rock climbing, as seen here March 1 at the Alderwood mall REI in Lyn...

Purchase Photo Reprint Enterprise/CHRIS GOODENOW

Daria Jamtaas, of Lynnwood, has arthritis at only 14 years old. Still, she enjoys rock climbing, as seen here March 1 at the Alderwood mall REI in Lynnwood.

Daria Jamtaas is a teenager on the move.
The 14-year-old plays the clarinet in the Brier Terrace Middle School band, is a cadet in the Girl Scouts, swims, roller blades and rock climbs.
It is particularly impressive since Jamtaas was diagnosed with pauciarticular juvenile rheumatoid arthritis in 2006 at age 9.
“It was a surprise,” Jamtaas said. “Arthritis is generally thought of as a grandparent’s disease.”
Jamtaas is one of 6,100 Washington children under the age of 18 diagnosed with juvenile arthritis. While arthritis affects people in different ways, common symptoms include joint inflammation, stiffness and pain.
“The thing with kids who have arthritis is that they don’t outwardly look sick,” said Cathy Jamtaas, Daria’s mother.
When her daughter’s knee began hurting, they assumed it was a sports-related injury. However, when she could no longer descend from her bunk bed, they knew it was more. By 2009, she had arthritis in both knees, her hip and jaw. She was prescribed a medication regimen that she still follows daily to ease the pain.
“She just deals with it and moves forward,” Cathy Jamtaas said. “She is very empathetic and wants to help other people.”
Within a year after her own diagnosis, Daria Jamtaas earned the Girl Scout’s Bronze Award for collecting and donating crayons to Seattle Children’s Hospital. Having been treated there herself, she understood the need for fun activities.
Her most recent endeavor was being a patient honoree and co-captain of the “Do It for Daria” team that participated in the December 2010 Jingle Bell Run/Walk that raises money for the Arthritis Foundation. Despite her arthritis and the pouring rain, she completed the 5K route.
“Sometimes it hurt,” Daria Jamtaas recalled. “But you know that you’re doing it for a good cause and that helps you push through.”
She looks forward to participating again this year. Until then, she continues moving towards her goal of becoming a brain surgeon.
“I want to help others with their medical problems,” she said. “Being nice is like a spark to the fire — one act can get everyone to do something good.”