RAPID CITY — Brynn Hubbard bounced out of dance class at the Alden Dance Academy alongside her classmates. Her sneakers scuffed against the pavement under her tired footsteps as she wrapped her arms around her mother’s leg.
“Are you sore?” Tara Hubbard asked her daughter.
Brynn, 10, shrugged and smiled. She doesn’t often let the pain effect her attitude.
Tara Hubbard can tell when her eldest daughter is in pain. The change to her gait is slight, but those who know Brynn notice, said the mother of two.
“Two days ago she had a really bad day,” Tara Hubbard said. “She kind of broke down in the car and had trouble moving after that. It’s not like the week before when everything was great.”
Tara and Alan Hubbard try not to worry about what they don’t know, what they can’t control.
The couple wrestled with fear and “what ifs” when Brynn’s pediatrician first referred them to an arthritis specialist. Today they ride a roller coaster of mostly good days and a few bad. Meanwhile, they try to focus on what’s happening now and set aside worries about the future.
”They didn’t even really want to say what it was,” Tara Hubbard said. “We never thought that kids could get arthritis.”
Hubbard recalls that day three years ago in Ann Arbor when she took Brynn to see a pediatric rheumatologist. The family’s doctor in Traverse City had a month earlier told Tara and her husband Alan they needed take her eldest daughter to see the specialist — one of only six in the state who focus on juvenile arthritis.
The couple spent the interim weeks learning about juvenile arthritis, trying to prepare themselves for the worst and hoping for the best.
Symptoms first showed as soreness and swelling in one of her knees. The doctor told Tara her daughter suffers from juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. The family has since raced to stay ahead of the disease’s progression.