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Last Updated: Thursday, 18 November, 2004, 13:30 GMT
Winner Paige smiles through pain
Corinne and Paige Burgess
Corinne Burgess said she was 'stunned' when Paige's diagnosis came through
A four-year-old girl diagnosed with juvenile arthritis this year has won a magazine competition for her smile.

Paige Burgess, from Port Talbot, south Wales, has to take strong medication for her condition.

But her mother Corinne said it was a joy to see her managing to smile through it all.

Paige is the girl winner of the 2004 Smile of the Year competition organised by That's Life magazine.

She first started limping last December and complained that her right knee was hurting.

Her mother Corinne Burgess, 28, took her back and forth to the GP, but it was more than three months before a consultant diagnosed juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA).

Every time she beams that dazzling smile at me, I realise what an incredible daughter I have
Corinne Burgess

Her mother was stunned by the diagnosis. "I thought only old people get arthritis," she said.

About 1 in 1000 children have arthritis and usually, it is this form of inflammatory arthritis.

In many cases the inflammation stops in late childhood, but about a third of children affected have problems which last into their adult life.

Paige needed an operation on her knee but she was "very brave" and soon made friends on the hospital children's ward, said her mother.

"Paige is the bravest little girl I know," she said.

"She needs a cocktail of medicines every day, but it doesn't stop her smiling, giggling and laughing.

Painting and drawing

"And every time she beams that dazzling smile at me, I realise what an incredible daughter I have".

Paige started school in September and especially likes painting and drawing, but because of her arthritis in her fingers she has to stop after 10 minutes.

But her mother said: "Despite the pain, Paige chatters away from morning until night.

"Don't get me wrong, she has her moods and tempers like any child of her age.

"But she smiles, she constantly smiles. It's a joy to see".

Magazine editor Jo Checkley said: "Paige has a smile that melts the heart. Her sweet smiling face sparkles with joy and you would never guess the pain she suffers underneath".

Corinne Burgess was not sure what she would buy Paige after she received the 1,000 prize, but said: "Let's just say she'll have a good Christmas".

Fighting back against arthritis
17 Feb 02 |  Health


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