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When People Said It's 'Selfish' to Go for My Dreams Despite My Illness

I’ve often wondered how many people give up on their dreams once they have been diagnosed with a chronic illness. I can remember when I was in college and getting my official diagnosis of lupus, then going through skin cancer, wondering how the hell am I going to do this, but you know what, I did it — even when people told me it was probably best to take a break and just take care of myself, but I personally believe taking care of myself also means not giving up on life and my dreams.

I actually had people say, “Isn’t it selfish to continue your dreams of obtaining a degree because if something happens to you, you’re leaving behind debt for your husband and children.” Wow is all I could really think, wow because I let these words actually keep me from going to law school. Yes I obtained my Associate’s degree, but these words haunted me, so much so that I never followed what then was my dream!

It was my husband though who encouraged me to never give up on my dreams no matter what the situation may be. That I can’t live my life thinking I may die tomorrow, or I won’t live today. His support encouraged me to enroll back in school to continue with my Bachelor’s degree. Unfortunately due to my medical conditions I ended up having to medically withdraw before I could graduate. I am OK with the outcome only because I know I gave it my all until I absolutely couldn’t go any further.

Unfortunately my diseases have progressed even further to the point where I am unable to work outside of the home. This didn’t discourage me — it just led me to what I found to be a new passion.

Through all of this I found a passion I continue to chase: starting a chronic illness support group. Helping others has always been something I have felt passionate about, and now it’s something I do on a daily basis and it’s rewarding beyond words. Some think I am strange because I make no money from this, but life isn’t always about making the most money to be happy, it’s about filling your heart with what’s rewarding.

Finding a passion when living with chronic illness is therapeutic. You need to find what makes you happy, because even on our worst days we need to know there is something to look forward to. Finding something that brings you tranquility and joy is invaluable.