Arizona State student, Sophia Colón doesn't just suffer from arthritis, she also advocates for change such as participating in arthritis camps and pushes for lower prices on arthritis medications.
When Colón was 2, her mother took her to the doctor after finding a lump in her knee and she tested positive for juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. Colón tested positive for JRA in her ankle when she was 12 years old and in her pinky finger when she was 15.
According to WebMD, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis is a type of arthritis that affects children ages 16 and younger causing joint inflammation and stiffness for over six months. JRA is an autoimmune disorder which makes it difficult for ones to fight off harmful substances such as viruses and bacteria.
" I have super low energy levels,"Colón said. "I get fatigued easier and since my arthritis is in my joints such as my knees and my ankle, walking long distances is super hard for me."
When Colón was younger she went to physical therapy to strengthen the muscles she wasn't using. Due to her joint pain, she would overuse certain muscles which caused an imbalance of muscle usage.
"When Sophia knows there is going to be a lot of walking she makes sure to wear the right shoes and to take her medicine to reduce the pain,"her sister, Isabella Colón said. "I am patient with her by waiting with her and keeping her company."
In addition to physical therapy, Colón gets an injection of steroids about every six months into her knee and takes oral medication. She also uses home remedies such as heat and ice packs and the Tens Unit, which delivers small electrical impulses to reduce the transmission of pain signals to the spinal cord and brain.
"I've been pretty lucky just on the scope of things," Colón said."I'd say mine's pretty moderate and definitely people have it a lot worse than I do and I realize that."
Colón participated in Camp Cruz outside of Santa Fe N. M. which is a camp for children struggling with arthritis. This camp was put on by the Arthritis Foundation and free of cost for campers. Colón also participated as a camp counselor and mentor for younger kids in the camp.
"It was an eye-opener and I had never met kids my age who had it," Colon said. "As an elementary school kid, meeting other kids with your diseases is really empowering."
Colón decided to be active in the Arthritis Foundation by going to Washington D.C. to advocate bills that benefit people with arthritis. One of her main focuses was to advocate on lowering the prices on medications for people with arthritis.
When the Arthritis Foundation put on events in New Mexico, Colon participated in radio interviews and shared her story on her local news channel, 2 Krqe.
"It makes me feel incredible that my daughter has handled a life long disease with such dignity and grace," Sophia's mother Diane Colón said. "She does lot let it get in the way of anything she wants to accomplish. I am also proud of her that she has become such a strong advocate for Arthritis Foundation and has raised thousands of dollars."