Advice from an arthritis veteran: what I wish someone had told me at 18


Quebecer Louise Charette, 59, is a long-time donor and ally of Arthritis Society Canada. In this article, she shares valuable advice learned from her experience living with arthritis, spanning four decades.

Diagnosed with a severe form of rheumatoid arthritis at the age of 18, Louise experienced a rapid progression of the disease and underwent hip and knee replacements in her early 20s. Despite the challenges of her condition, she successfully completed her pharmacy studies and enjoyed a challenging career in her family's community pharmacy and the pharmaceutical industry. until her health forced her to retire at age 43. 

"Louise with family and friends at the QC Walk for arthritisIt was very hard for me to stop working. In addition to losing my sense of purpose and daily routine, my social circle was disrupted, and I suddenly felt isolated.” Louise credits the support of her family, especially her very devoted husband, Serge, her late parents, and her two brothers and sister, with helping her through these difficult times. 

Louise remains hopeful and is optimistic about future generations. "Research has made great strides in the last few decades and medication to treat arthritis is now more effective. Also, patients are better informed and supported in their daily lives. I wish I had had access to this kind of support when I was diagnosed.” 

To those newly diagnosed or struggling with arthritis, she offers this valuable advice:  

  • Find a healthcare team you trust so you can work as a team, which will increase compliance with your chosen treatment. 

  • Be open to complementary therapies, such as physiotherapy, which can make a big difference in managing symptoms. 

  • Stay positive and hopeful. Health outcomes for arthritis patients have drastically improved in the past 40 years and funding innovative research will hopefully pave the way to a cure. 

  • Be patient and persistent, each case progresses differently. 

  • Accept help from friends and family. They want to help! 

  • Don't neglect your mental health.  

  • Break the isolation by joining patient support groups such as Arthritis Connections

  • Get informed. Arthritis Society Canada offers many helpful resources as well as our free Arthritis Line, staffed with caring volunteers.  

  • Learn to accept and appreciate what you have, and realistically adapt your activities to the stage of your disease instead of always looking backwards.   

  • Enjoy every happiness, no matter how small! Louise has not let arthritis stop her from traveling (especially when she was younger) or from pursuing her hobbies.