I’d like to tell you about a remarkable young lady at St. Pius. Peta-Gaye B. is 22 years old. At age four, she was diagnosed with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis — a severely crippling disease. You may have noticed the very much shorter member of the St. Pius Choir — that’s Peta-Gaye.
When she was first diagnosed, she missed a great deal of school, and was in and out of the hospital for pain. When JOP first started its association with St. Pius, we were able to help provide many of her pain medications. One of them — prednisone — made her “puff up,” making her self-conscious. Nevertheless, Peta-Gaye was chosen as Jamaica’s Poster Child for Rheumatoid Arthritis.
Peta-Gaye missed the entire first year of high school. Her condition improved after that and she was able to stop the medications and finish high school. She has become a beautiful young woman, although very short.
She is presently enrolled at Edna Manley College of Visual and Performing Arts and is a budding ceramics artisan — she created the necklaces given to the May, 2011 Missionaries.
Peta-Gaye still has problems walking — her wrists and hips are the most severely affected by the disease. Using a treadle-powered potters’ wheel is very difficult. The doctors have concluded that she will need both hips replaced very soon and because of her size, the prostheses will need to be custom designed. Without replacement, they have begun to fuse, severely limiting her mobility. In the meantime, pain medication from the St. Pius X medical clinic is all that can be done. Peta-Gaye is a very brave and uncomplaining young lady. At the request of Dr. Lee Martin, who staffs the clinic at St. Pius X, Jamaica Outreach Program is exploring prospects for her hip replacements.