The Card From a Friend That Changed How I Think of Myself With Chronic Illness


I sat in my kitchen with happy tears streaming down my face. It had been a long time since I had cried happy tears. Having multiple chronic illnesses, life is full of tears: sad tears, angry tears, frustration tears. Happy tears are few and far between. Reading the card from my friend Brandy changed how I look at myself.

open notecard with handwritten message
Brandy’s card for Tracy.

It was August of 2013 and I was having a rough summer. I had pain all over my body  aching, nonstop, life-altering pain. None of my doctors believed how bad the pain was. Test after test came back negative. It was a terrible time in my life.

Then I read the card. Brandy had no idea how much this card would change my perspective. She took the time to write a note in the card that still touches my heart. The part of the note that sticks out to me the most is when she wrote, “You are going through so much yourself and still you manage to be there for everyone else.” Being in poor health, I can’t physically go everywhere I want to. Most days it is a struggle to get out of bed. Brandy understands that while I don’t always feel up to hanging out, I’m always available to listen to my friends. That means the world to me.

I never thought of myself as tough. Living with several chronic illnesses, I used to see myself as weak. I’m not able to do the things I used to do  work, have a social life, travel, plan for the future, etc. This card reminds me that even through my struggle, I am tough. I wake up in pain every day, but I fight through it. My life is not at all how I pictured it, but it has taught me so much. I have learned to advocate for myself in ways I never thought possible.

Brandy signed the card from her and her son Robbie. Brandy is a close friend, and Robbie is also a big part of my life. Every time I see Robbie, he always has a smile and a hug for me. He knows how to make me laugh when I need it most. He is the sunshine when I can only see rain.

I will treasure this card for the rest of my life. It still makes my heart smile almost three years later. The card is displayed on a bookshelf in my bedroom. When I wake up, it is one of the first things I see. Recently I was having a rough day, so I called Brandy. She said, “You’re a tough cookie. I won’t let you crumble.” I am forever grateful to Brandy for the card that changed my life. Our promise to each other on the worst days still stands:

I won’t let you crumble!

front and inside of handwritten card
The front and inside of Brandy’s card for Tracy.

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