Meet Meet Alexa Chronister:
Alexa Chronister is not your stereotypical college student. She doesn’t spend the weekend tailgating before football games or playing beer pong at fraternity parties. Alexa suffers from Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS) and Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS); two chronic, painful and often debilitating conditions. As a college freshman, Alexa felt isolated as she struggled to manage the symptoms of her chronic illnesses while simultaneously navigating life on campus. Alexa saw the need to help, support and connect other young adults diagnosed with chronic illnesses and created the Fight Like A Warrior and Cards For Warriors Programs from inside her college dorm room. Alexa always knew she had a passion for helping others. At only 7 years old, she held fundraisers for childhood cancer research by selling her own toys at yard sales.
When she’s not in class and working towards a major in Public Policy & minor in social entrepreneurship, Alexa devotes the majority of her time to supporting other ”Warriors”. Fight Like A Warrior has over 10.5K followers on Instagram alone and Cards for Warriors has sent over 300 handwritten letters of hope to people fighting chronic illnesses around the world. Fight Like A Warrior also has a Blog, Warrior of the Month program, a body positivity focused Brave and Beautiful program, and a YouTube channel. Fight Like a Warrior has received national attention through its collaboration with companies such as Healthline and Vogmask and with the film Becoming Incurable .
What are current physical issues/challenges? How do they impact your life?
The main symptoms that affect me from having EDS & POTS are chronic pain, tachycardia, dizziness, fatigue, and GI issues. I mainly manage these with physical therapy, exercise, and medication. These symptoms can make day-to-day activities a challenge, but I try to not let them stop me from doing the things I really enjoy! I may have to modify an activity that is more challenging for me, but I usually try to do everything I put my mind to!
Tell Us About Fight Like A Warrior.
I started Fight Like A Warrior out of my freshman dorm room in the beginning of last school year. I decided to launch this project after creating our Cards For Warriors program and deciding I wanted to do more. Struggling with chronic illness myself, I wished something like Fight Like A Warrior would have existed for me. I built this project for others in similar situations, in the hope even just one individual could benefit from our work. Fight Like A Warrior allowed me to create something positive for myself and other warriors, out of an otherwise challenging situation. As a freshman in college, there wasn’t always free time available, but Fight Like A Warrior was a priority for me. It has become such a large part of my life and I feel our work is providing a lifeline for this often forgotten community. This project has provided so much to so many people and I will continue to make our impact a priority.
You have built this amazing online team of people who also have chronic illnesses. What is the ultimate goal of Fight Like A Warrior?
Fight Like A Warrior aims to eliminate the stigmas surrounding chronic illness, cancer, and mental illness, while empowering our warriors. Our goal is to spread hope and light to an incredible community of fighters, while raising awareness for the battles they face. In the future we hope there is less of a need for organizations like Fight Like A Warrior, as new research emerges and medicine advances. For now, we aim to be sure no one fights alone.
What’s your style? Any fashion tweaks you have to do because of your physical issues?
My style is hard to define because I am constantly trying out something new! I can go from wearing a super girly dress, to jeans and converse, and my joggers and leggings are definitely staples in my closet! Because of my medical conditions, my skin can get very sensitive, which means I often trade tighter and more scratchy materials for more flowing and cotton fabrics! I also wear orthotics. And while you will definitely see me in sandals and flip flops, I often will be in some sort of sneaker or shoe my orthotics are able to slide into! I do use braces from time to time to support my joints and even compression gloves and socks to combat pain and blood pooling from POTS.
I will also sometimes wear a mask during times when it is much easier to get sick! I used to be much more self-conscious about these fashion “tweaks”, but I don’t let them affect my confidence. This insecurity has transferred to my work with Fight Like A Warrior. I work to involve positive role models in our project to show warriors there are fighters just like them who are rocking their medical equipment! We hope to raise awareness for these devices so they are much more mainstream. With so many people rocking a warrior’s medical equipment, they can too!
What’s one thing you wear that boosts your confidence?
My rings are something I can wear almost all the time and boost my confidence for the day! Each of my rings has a story behind them whether they remind me of a person, place, or past experience I have had. Wearing them reminds me of the people who love and support me, as well as some of my happiest memories! One in particular is a heart rate ring, which for me, represents my POTS diagnosis and journey. It continues to remind me of my strength and is always with me during challenging moments!
The Giver! I first read this book in middle school, but I still enjoy reading it and its messages continue to stick with me! It has taken on even more meaning for me since the start of my journey with chronic illness, as it emphasizes the importance of pain in order to know true joy.
Favorite Movie/TV show?
I am an avid movie watcher, so it is very hard to pick just one favorite, but I have loved Annie ever since I was little!
Do you have a favorite quote or motto?
“You either get bitter or you get better. It’s that simple. You either take what has been dealt to you and allow it to make you a better person, or you allow it to tear you down. The choice does not belong to fate. It belongs to you.” – Josh Shipp
This quote has been something that continues to stick with me in my fight. I don’t have control over my genes or the chronic illnesses I have been diagnosed with, but I do have the power to decide how I react. I can succumb to my illnesses and let them win, or I can continue to fight and chase my dreams. Fate does not determine the impact my illnesses have on me; I own that power. I have chosen to use my experiences to give back through my Fight Like A Warrior work, provide me with new perspectives, and strengthen me as an individual. I believe that while most every warrior we work with has no control over the medical diagnosis they have received, everyone has the power of positivity.
How Can People Get Involved?
There are so many ways to get involved with Fight Like A Warrior! You can visit us at www.fightlikeawarrior.org. Here you can request a card for yourself or a friend from our Cards For Warriors program, nominate yourself or a warrior you know to be our Warrior of the Month, contribute a post to our blog, submit a video to our YouTube channel, and even apply to be a member of our Ambassador program. Our main outreach occurs on our social media! You can find us on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.