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Dear Younger Me: Everything Will Be OK

Mental Well-Being

April 01, 2024

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Photographs provided by Alexis Rochester. Design by Andrew Nguyen.

Photographs provided by Alexis Rochester. Design by Andrew Nguyen.

by Alexis Rochester


Fact Checked by:

Jennifer Chesak, MSJ


by Alexis Rochester


Fact Checked by:

Jennifer Chesak, MSJ


I was diagnosed with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (RA) when I was 10 years old. I was scared and alone. I wish I could have told myself that everything would be just fine.

When I was diagnosed with juvenile RA at the age of 10, I felt incredibly alone.

None of my family and friends knew anything about it, and I didn’t know anyone who had it. Looking back, I wish I’d known that everything was going to be OK. I wish I’d known I would still get to enjoy a wonderful life.

I wasn’t told that from anyone back then. The doctors made it seem like I wouldn’t have a “normal” life.

All I needed at this young age was the understanding and comfort that this diagnosis didn’t change who I was. In fact, it opened many great doors and opportunities for me.

Here’s what I wish I’d known back then.

Dear Alexis,

As I sit at my desk looking out the window, I can see my kids laughing and playing outside. They are enjoying this warm, sunshine-filled day without a care in the world. Being a child is the sweetest, most simple time in your life.

Except, I know right now you aren’t feeling like that. While you are only 10 years old, you are feeling so alone and scared right now. You were diagnosed with juvenile RA and are now facing a lifelong situation.

The doctors have said you might outgrow it when you turn 18, or you might have it forever. Either way, the road ahead is looking scary, isn’t it?

You also don’t know anyone who has been diagnosed with this, and you don’t even know any adult with this condition. Your friends say, “Oh, you don’t have arthritis! That’s an old person’s disease.”

They don’t know the pain and suffering you’re experiencing. The teachers and coaches at school don’t understand, and even your family isn’t really getting it. They are trying, but they don’t know what you’re really feeling.

But don’t worry about any of this, Alexis. Everything is going to be OK, and in fact, everything is going to be fantastic.

Not only are you going to live a full and exciting life, but your RA diagnosis is going to take you down a different career path. You are going to be in a position to help others and connect with people who are feeling alone and scared with their RA diagnosis, too.

RA is not going to hold you back at all in life! It’s going to empower you in your health, life, and job.

You will get married and have wonderful children whom you can support and help through anything. You have been given the blessing of experiencing a life changing health event that will make you a better person, more kind and caring, and help you relate to others in a way many people never get a chance to.

I just wanted you to know this is not the end, and this is not the worst thing that could happen. You are strong, and the journey ahead is going to be an exciting one filled with many experiences. You’ve got this!


Your future self

Fact checked on April 01, 2024

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About the author

Alexis Rochester

Alexis Rochester is an investigative chemist, blogger, and founder of Chemistry Cachet. She shares science-based skin care, cleaning, gardening, and health tips. She was diagnosed with RA at age 10, so she has a passion for pain management tips and research, along with sharing her journey through this disease. She lives in Texas with her daughter, husband, and bulldog. You can find her posting pictures and fun stories daily on Instagram. Also look for Chemistry Cachet on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

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