When You're Chasing Life More Than Dreams Because of Chronic Illness, Remember This


As children we are often prompted to think about what we want to be when we grow up and encouraged to dream big and reach for the stars. For most of us, I’d say it’s probably not even close to being in our minds that we might not be able to grow up. Some live with disability from the beginning, with anything from mobility to speech to vision or hearing. But what happens when disability develops as a teenager or young adult?

I am learning all about this world when dreaming big and reaching for the stars becomes fighting for life, not as a cancer patient but as a medically complicated patient with over two dozen diagnoses. I am learning that I am not alone. If you are one of the medically complicated patients in this world, and you are reading this, remember:

You deserve to dream big and reach for the stars, but more than anything you need to know you are still worthy of love. Don’t let anyone convince you to second-guess your dreams or change them because they are too big or not “big enough.” I believe dreaming big is what keeps us fighting. When I was growing up and asked what I wanted to be when I grew up I would often say with pride, “I want to be a mother.” I wanted to grow up, get married and have children. To be a mother. That was all I dreamed about as a little girl. When I played house with my brothers, sisters and dad I was always the mother. Dad played the baby. Somewhere along the way the world tried convincing me I had to choose something else as a career. After all, I could be anything in the world, why would I want to settle down and have children?

To this day that dream has not left me. In fact, that dream has saved my life. It is what I fight for every day. Whether I’ll be able to have children biologically is beyond me. Whether I’ll feel safe or confident in that is beyond me. What I do know is there are many children in this world who need the love I have and the love I can offer when I am ready. Five years ago, I almost ended my life and it was this dream that kept me holding on. It has been this dream that keeps me going, that I keep fighting for.

Find that dream. The dream you can’t let go of. The dream that if taken away, makes life seem pointless and don’t ever let go of it! Even if you have to make some changes to the dream. Maybe you can no longer walk, or your vision or hearing are impaired. In this case and any case really, let that dream be your guide. Your star. The magnet that keeps you grounded. Don’t give up.

If anything, I believe that is the biggest thing I learned from my martial arts family. To find something I am so passionate about and never let it go. Life is filled with purpose and meaning when we can learn to fight for what we want in spite of the storms that come our way.

Finally, just remember, no amount of disability can detract from your worth. You are worthy of all the love in the world. You deserve happiness. A wheelchair, hearing aids, blindness, being unable to speak, feeding tubes, central lines, none of it detracts from the worth of your soul.

You are loved. You are needed. Your voice matters. Your dreams matter. You matter!

Getty image by Choreograph.


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