A Miss California Contestant's Journey To Beauty

by Rochelle R tumblr_mudtm9Ggwe1sa7h11o1_400It was my sophomore year in high school. I woke up that morning to go to school, dreading the fact that I was up before 7 a.m. I remember climbing out of bed and I had this feeling that something was off. I looked down at my left pinky and discovered it was so swollen, anyone could’ve mistaken it for my thumb. This puzzled me why suddenly it happened. Days passed, still no improvement. My pinky was a bit stiff and painful, but nothing serious. We finally visited my doctor, but no diagnosis. I was then referred to get my blood drawn and when the lab results returned, my life wasn’t going to be the same…both good and bad.

I had the rheumatoid arthritis factor. Wait a minute, a teenager with arthritis? That can’t be right. My parents were devastated. I was just taken aback. As a lady with a debilitating disease, I have had numerous ups and downs with my health. This autoimmune disease weakened my immune system and attacked my joints, first in my pinky, then traveled to my ring finger. Throughout the years, I experienced intense pain and stiffness in my joints, easily got sick with slow recovery, and was easily fatigued. Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory disorder that typically affects your body’s joints, causing a painful swelling that can eventually result in bone erosion and joint deformity (mayoclinic.com).

Fast forward a little over a decade later, life is adventurous and I am happy to report I am in remission. Thank God. This inspired me to achieve greatness, shed light on this disease and empower others that with confidence and the right attitude, anything is possible. Besides having the girl power within myself to feel empowered over this challenge, it was truly my rock, leading lady and best friend, my MOM, who encouraged me to enter the Miss California USA 2014 pageant. What better platform to be proud of and share than my life, and the inspiring experiences I have faced along the way. It is my mission to empower everyone by spreading awareness on juvenile rheumatoid arthritis because that kids can be diagnosed with a debilitating disease too. Despite children and teens experiencing pain and joint damage because of JRA, inner beauty, confidence, and persistence will shine through and allow you to accomplish anything you are passionate about. It is our duty to evoke and inspire positive change to move forward and live a productive life, and we will continue to work and research for cures and solutions to these problems. Empowering females, brains, beauty, passion, emotional and personal platform all linked to a pageant?… Deadly and fierce combo.

To support Rochelle’s goal to reach Miss California 2014 check out her profile here.

Your StoriesErin Bagwell