Meet Teens Like You 

These stories are from teens like you. Read their stories for a little inspiration and to remind yourself you’re not alone! 


Abby’s Story

Abby, at 13 

I was diagnosed with polyarticular juvenile rheumatoid arthritis in 2011. My family just thought it was going pains, but it never went away. I would limp, I couldn't hold a cup and my fingers wouldn't straighten. And I was in a lot of pain. So, my mom took me to the doctor. Luckily the doctor had a kid that was living with arthritis, and she sent us to a rheumatologist. 

The rheumatologist saw signs of arthritis and put me on meds immediately. She said I have arthritis in just about every single joint in my body, including my jaw. I was put on methotrexate first, for a once a week shot. I am extremely afraid of needles. This was very scary; we tried so many different things to make the shot better. We put on numbing cream, played some sort of device, anything. I was so nervous that almost every week I would throw up. The medicine was not good to me either. I would feel so sick for the next 48 hours. So, my rheumatologist put me on Enbrel every 5 days and switched me to pills of methotrexate, which weren't so bad. Then my muscles started hurting and I was also diagnosed with fibromyalgia. I was in a lot of pain. I wanted to hide it from everyone. I didn't want anyone to know. I didn't want anyone to think of me as someone who is different. Now I am fighting through the pain without anyone knowing and my mom says I am the toughest person she knows! It's a struggle but you do get used to it. Once the medicine starts working you feel a lot better. 

Know that you can do it and never give up! 

Anna Grace’s Story

Anna Grace, at 13 

I was diagnosed with juvenile arthritis three years ago, but it =started long before that. I was having so much pain I didn't even know what to do. I was literally crawling out of bed every morning because I was so stiff and having so much pain. We had been to multiple pediatric doctors, but they all just kept dismissing it as growing pains. 

Then, one day, I sat down in PE and I couldn't stand back up. I was taken to the after-hours clinic where they had me scheduled for an MRI. The results showed I had fluid in my hip. The doctors insisted I had injured it, but both my family and me knew I had done nothing. The pain just kept getting stronger. 

Finally, my mom insisted that we have tests done from my pediatric doctor. The came back positive for inflammatory markers, meaning I probably either had juvenile arthritis or lupus. Even so, the doctor thought it was just a fluke and told us to wait six months. My mom told him that we couldn't wait six months because I could barely get out of bed as it was! Finally, we got a second opinion and went to a rheumatologist, where I was finally diagnosed. 

Since my diagnosis, I have been through several medications, some of which stopped working. The disease is stressful and difficult because one day everything's great and I feel fine, and the next day the medicines have stopped working and I have to try something new. My arthritis is very painful, and I have good days and bad days. I miss school one day every four weeks to go to the hospital to get an infusion. As much as I hate the medicines and pain, I love the opportunities it has given me, including meeting kids my age who share the same disease, going to Camp MASH (a juvenile arthritis camp) and traveling around the United States every year for conferences. Most of these opportunities were brought to me through the Arthritis Foundation. In 2014, I was even chosen to be a Jingle Bell Run honoree! 

My main takeaway from having arthritis is helping others who have it too. I want to find a cure not only for me, but also for every other kid who is affected by it.  

Arianna’s Story

Arianna, at 14 

Sometime in 2006 I started to have trouble with my right wrist, lots of pain and swelling. At first, we thought I was sleeping on it funny because it was stiff in the mornings. Then a couple of months later it started happening in my left wrist, too. Not long after that it was in my ankle. My parents took me to all kinds of doctors who couldn’t figure out what was going on. Finally, in January of 2007, we went to a pediatric rheumatologist. In March of 2007, I was diagnosed with JIA.  

Since this all started, I have been through lots of ups and downs. I struggled with wondering why this had to happen to me. I have learned a lot talking to other kids with arthritis and no longer feel like I’m alone. I have arthritis in most of my big joints, including both wrists, both knees, one ankle, both hips, one shoulder, and some of my small joints, like my toes. I would like to do what I can to spread awareness that even though I have this condition, I’m just like every other kid. My friends have been really supportive, but at first, they didn’t believe I had arthritis. They thought arthritis only happen to old people.   

I have some good days and some not so great, but I do know I will make every day the best it can be. I will not let arthritis get the best of me. I make sure to be as active as I can, with cheerleading and tumbling. My school has also been very supportive. My gym teacher understands that sometimes I just have to sit out of class because I’m having a bad day. When I hear my classmates complain about taking gym, I say to be grateful that you can participate without the worries I have. I wish I could be like them and take gym without being in pain.  

I hope that if someone reads my story, they’ll feel less alone like I did in the beginning.  I don’t know what the future holds for me and arthritis, but I will try my best at everything. I have been a straight-A student for six years. That even includes my really bad year, when I missed at least 40 days of school! I won the science fair and was acknowledged in the newspaper for doing a project on the impact of cigarette smoking. Someone from the health department also praised me for it, and I hope to help them get the word out to kids not to smoke. Your life and body are too precious; it’s your job to take good care of it! 

My wish and dream that I know is to find a cure for arthritis. We have to be positive and let people know about it and what they can do to help. Starting a walk team is a great way to start! 

Brianna’s Story

Brianna, at 17 

You could say I had a tough start - I was born premature when my mom had an aneurism and I was diagnosed with JIA when I was five. It started out with a swollen ankle. I went to the doctor and he thought I fractured it, so he put me in a cast. Later, my parents noticed my right hand was swollen so I went to the doctor again. They thought I fractured it, even though I never fell or hurt myself and I was put in another cast. While I was dealing with two casts, my mom noticed my left hand was swollen so I was admitted to the hospital. It was there the doctors ran some tests and were able to diagnose me with arthritis 

I was given a terrible diagnosis – doctors told my parents I wasn’t going to be able to walk and that I would need a wheelchair for the rest of my life. After I left the hospital, I saw an adult rheumatologist who put me on strong medication for adults. But that didn’t work, so I started seeing a pediatric rheumatologist in Houston, TX because there aren’t any where I live. Since then I've been following up every three months traveling back and forth for my checkups.  

Because of JA, I’ve had to grow up fast. At 10, I was put on Enbrel, an injection that has helped me control my pain, and I've been taking it for seven years now. Some mornings when I'm getting ready for school I just start crying. Some days I'm very grateful for this disease.   

School has been challenging for me. When I was younger, kids made fun of the way I walk and called me "zombie," but I would just laugh and go along. Even though I wasn’t able to play sports, I read books and took college-credits in high school. My arthritis has never stopped me from excelling at what I love.  

As a senior, I’m graduating in the top 25% of my class and graduating as a Texas Scholar. I volunteered to be Duchess of Carrot for a local 77th annual Citrus Parade. I am running to set an example for kids dealing with Juvenile Arthritis that anything is possible and to try anything! 

Emily’s Story

Emily, at 17 

I was diagnosed with JIA at age 8. It started when I woke up one morning and couldn’t move my feet. My mom thought I hurt myself or that someone hit me. She took me to the doctor, but the doctor just said that I had flat feet and that it would go away. Only it kept getting worse.  

After more than a year of going to the doctor and not knowing what was wrong with me, I was finally sent to a specialist. Almost immediately the doctor was able to diagnose me with arthritis.  

Since then, I’ve been on all kinds of medications. I started with Enbrel, but it didn't seem to help me. Now I’m on methotrexate and Humira. At first, shots were painful, but now I’m used to it. I get tired pretty fast, but I know I have to take my medicine to get better. My doctor is very nice to me; he wants me to be in good health.  

I have homeschooling for two classes because my arthritis is so bad that I can’t get up in the morning, especially during the winter when I get super sick. 

On February 25, 2013 I had hip surgery. My hip was completely damaged; my bone was as big as an orange and my tissue was destroyed, too. I suffered a lot through that time; I couldn't walk for three months and I went through a really bad depression. I cried and asked myself, “Why did God punish me with this disease?” And there was a point where I didn’t think I could go on. But eventually, things started to get better. And I was able to walk again – which gave me hope for the future.  

Nothing about having arthritis is easy, but every day, I make the choice to stand up and be strong. I refuse to let anything bring me down anymore. And thanks to my surgery and medicine, I can swim and go shopping without any pain anymore – and I’m so thankful for that!