5 Similarities Between a Rare Diagnosis and Challenges of Winning the Lottery


I recently heard the most intriguing report about lottery winners. Apparently, it’s not as easy as it sounds. I mean, you just won millions of dollars, so who cares how hard the process is, right? I am pretty sure I could “suffer through” winning 50 million; couldn’t you?

It really made me curious. The more I listened to the challenges associated with those who have won the lottery, the more I noticed great similarities between their experiences and my own when my baby boy was diagnosed with a genetic disorder.

1. You keep it a secret.

If lottery winners breathe a word to anyone, they run the risk of being hunted like prey. We left the geneticist’s office and sealed our lips and hearts around our news. It took weeks, months, which turned into years before we were comfortable telling people about our diagnosis. Not only because it was hard to talk about, but because we were fearful of being judged or labeled.

2. You need a team of specialists.

The prepared lottery winners assembled a team of attorneys and financial planners before even traveling to their state capitol to claim their winnings. We have recently added attorney and financial planner to our team of over a dozen specialists, which includes a cardiologist, neurologist, physiatrist and feeding specialist.

3. Your perspective changes.

Unfortunately for the lottery winners, their perspective on what they used to think was acceptable (a three-bedroom apartment in a semi-decent neighborhood) may shift in a negative way — they might start to see what they were “lacking.” Fortunately for us, our perspective on what was important in life shifted for the better. We now appreciate all the little things we were too busy to see before. Everything we do and have has a deeper value than before.

4. You find out who your real friends are.

There’s nothing like a little money to uncover the self-centered or swindling folks in your inner circle. Similarly, there’s nothing like a life-changing diagnosis to uncover the love, compassion and ride-or-die attitude of the people you’ll do life with forever (yeah, it may also uncover a few you won’t).

5. You win!

I feel our baby with special needs brought us into life’s “Winner’s Circle.” Through our struggles and doubts we have come to a place of rising above the everyday challenges of life and always finding a place where we win, because he wins. No matter the amount, lottery winnings are finite. The win in our lives and hearts will be with us forever and grow bigger, not smaller. They will be passed down to future generations in even greater proportion.

I’m sure I didn’t always feel the same excitement and rush as lottery winners do when they double-check those winning numbers with the ticket in their hand. But that baby boy is now 15 years old. And I can honestly say that given the choice between him and the $50 million, we’d pick him 100 percent of the time.

two brothers with their arms raised and smiling
Melanie’s kids.

Follow this journey on Redefine Special.

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