8-year-old runner learns to control asthma

May 31, 2010 7:52:49 PM PDT
With grit and determination, a young Vacaville girl is living proof that kids with serious asthma can still compete in sports and compete at a high level too.

Jaxin Woodward, 8, is ahead of her class when it comes to running.

"I'm a long-distance runner," says Jaxin.

Jaxin loves the 1,500 meters, but also runs the 800. She's placed among the best in the country at nationals and the Junior Olympics, often racing against much older kids.

"I start off fast so I can get in front. Then, I just try to keep the same pace and if my time is slow, I try to kick it up, but if my time is perfect, then I try to stay at the same pace," says Jaxin.

Jaxin does it with severe asthma. She was diagnosed when she was a baby. At age 5, despite her condition, she joined a track team.

"So we brought her out there to the recreation program, thought it would be real cute to see her out there running track and they told me, probably within a week, that she needed to be moved up to the older age group," says Jaxin's mom, Da'Fona Jackson.

And, because of the strenuous exercise, Jaxin's asthma needed to be controlled.

"She's on the scale of... if it were 0 to 10, she's an 8 in severity," says Jane Stewart R.N., Jaxin's asthma case manager at Kaiser.

"With someone like Jaxin, you basically have to use medicine on a daily basis," says Stewart.

That medicine is an inhaled corticosteroid, called Flovent. It is administered at the lowest possible dose, to keep Jaxin's lungs free of swelling. She takes another medication 30 minutes before she runs to prevent spasms.

"She'll take two puffs of Albuterol just before her run," says Stewart.

Jaxin's success on the track is no fluke. Besides her own hard work, her parents have done their part to make sure her asthma doesn't get in the way.

"For me, it's exciting to see her be able to progress the way she has, despite her asthmatic symptoms," says Da'Fona.

Now, when counseling other kids and parents struggling with an asthma diagnosis, Stewart pulls out a flyer featuring Jaxin.

"I have a little insert with her picture and I say, 'The bad news about asthma is it can't be cured. The good news is it can be very well controlled,'" says Stewart.

The third-grader is well aware she can be an inspiration to other young kids.

"My biggest dream is to be on the Disney Channel and show other kids that they can do sports without having to worry about their asthma, as long as they take their medication," says Jaxin.


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