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Living her best life with a challenging arthritis diagnosis

Jennifer Kauffman of McVeytown, now 40, was diagnosed with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis when she was just 4 years old.

At that time, her parents, Barb and James Kauffman, knew that their little girl was not developing at the rate of other children her age. Jennifer also had a rash on the back of her legs. 

“I was in so much pain when I was little. I look back at old pictures of myself when I was young and in a wheelchair. I was so sad,” says Jennifer.

Jennifer worked with several specialists over the years to help treat and manage her condition, including Dr. William Ayoub, now a retired Geisinger physician of 35 years. Since her diagnosis, Jennifer has had seven joint replacements, including hips, knees, shoulders and an elbow.

Living a full life, despite a severe arthritis diagnosis

“I feel so much better today,” says Jenn, who works as a part-time secretary at a local church. “I give God the credit for giving me strength to push through each day. I also have great doctors that take care of me.”

After Dr. Ayoub retired, Jenn began seeing Geisinger rheumatologist Dr. Francesca Okoye. She now sees Dr. Okoye every three months.

Dealing with her arthritis takes a team effort and involves a care team of several providers. Jenn is also under the care of Geisinger podiatrist Dr. Rachel Kish.

Jenn’s journey with arthritis is a powerful one that speaks to the importance of early diagnosis and the positive outcomes that can be achieved through quality and innovative care. Her multi-disciplinary care under the direction of Geisinger specialists has been transformational.

Today, Jenn is able to live independently and owns and operates her own car.

Walking to bring awareness to arthritis

The 13th annual Walk in the Park for Arthritis fundraising event recently took place at Kish Park in Lewistown – an event started by Jenn. Geisinger rheumatology nurse, Renee Pry, LPN, helps lead the walk.

Along with Renee, Dr. Ayoub helped Jenn develop the walk. “This walk is all about Jenn,” says Renee. “We do this because of her and to bring awareness to arthritis. Dr. Ayoub also plays a big part of creating awareness.” 

 

Next steps:

Make an appointment with Francesca Okoye, MD, PhD

Make an appointment with Rachel Kish, DPM

Learn more about rheumatology care at Geisinger

Get care for rheumatoid arthritis

Jenn Kauffman, standing and smiling, during the 13th annual Walk in the Park for Arthritis.