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The Moment I Realized I'm Grateful for My Rare Disease

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Today while walking alone, I surprised myself. Deep in thought, I suddenly said aloud, “Thank you.”

It was in this moment I realized I’m grateful for my disease.

In a way, it’s become a mentor (it commands respect) and an instructor (it encourages patience). Lessons are delivered daily, and the more I listen, the more I learn. While the time has been relatively short since my diagnosis, these are the lessons I’ve learned so far:

 1. This is not without purpose. Deep in the depths of disease lies a purpose much larger than me.

2. Have patience. I believe “divine timing” is at work.

3. Be vulnerable. Share. Be openhearted and prepare for unexpected connections with others.

4. Be present. Disease shifts on a dime. Spending energy and worry on what could happen distracts from the joy in what is happening.

5. Gratitude heals. Being aware of what blessings I’ve received helps me recognize more when they arrive.

6. I am stronger than I think. How I respond is more important than the problem at hand.

7. Watch and listen. Lessons are delivered in a many forms. I’ll be taught, as long as I stay open to learning.

8. Practice compassion. Others around me have unknown struggles as well. I try to approach them with an empathetic heart.

9. Take the help. Say yes when someone offers to help. It’s not considered weak to accept generosity.

10. Self-care matters. My body is a perfect, magnificently designed gift.

11. Use toolsWalking and writing are powerful methods of therapy.

12. Do better. “Do the best you can until you know better, then when you know better, do better.” — Maya Angelou.

This is what I’ve learned so far, but I’m confident I’ll be shown more along the way. What are some of your best lessons learned?

Here’s to healing,


A version of this post originally appeared on Molly LaFata.

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Originally published: March 26, 2015
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