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    • #13987
      Forum Moderator
      Keymaster

      Inspired by the Harry Potter series, columnist Sherri Woodbridge reflects on the idea that her choices define her, and not her disability and illness. Click here to read more from Sherri.

      How do you define yourself?

    • #14006
      Janice Hetke
      Participant

      Even though I was unable to pull up or read Sherri Woodbridge’s article on “Your Disability Does Not Define You,”  I absolutely believe this to be true. Environment or genetics caused my diseases; I did not, purposely.  I’m still the same person I was before I contracted the four chronic diseases I now have. Yes, I deal with them on a minute to minute basis, but that’s just the physical part of me.  My physicality does not define me.  For instance, over the years, off and on, I have battled against being overweight. Was I a different person, inside, than when I was normal weight?  Not at all.  Being overweight made me feel uncomfortable in my own skin, but it did not change my personality or the person I am inside.  I still hold the same beliefs, values and hopes as I once had.  Inside of me, the part that houses my strength, my hopes, dreams, loves, heartaches and sorrows; still exist.  I would feel this way regardless of my weight, or in spite of my diseases.  For me, how I feel about myself transcends my diseases.  I am who I am with or without them.  Naturally, I would feel better if I were disease free; but I am still a happy, confident person regardless.  My advice for those who do?  Never let your disease(s) undermine the best parts of who you are inside  You are so much more than that because you refuse to let your disease(s) dictate how you should think and feel.  You are a warrior fighting to better and extend your life.  It is up to you to define your disease(s), not the other way around.

      • #14007
        Jean Mellano
        Participant

        Beautiful words of wisdom Janice, thank you for sharing.

      • #14016
        Ally
        Keymaster

        Thank you for sharing, Janice. I love your positive attitude and your ability to put your PD in its proper context… it’s a part of your experience, but it’s not who you are. Have you always felt this way, or did you have to work on changing your mindset over time? Thanks again for posting.

    • #14019
      Janice Hetke
      Participant

      Hi Alley.  Thanks for the kind words.  The way I feel is innate.  Usually, I don’t even think about how I feel.  I just am.  Living in the present helps.  I don’t look back and the only reason I think toward the future is to think about something fun I’m looking forward to doing.  Otherwise, I keep the future in the future.  With multiple chronic diseases, I try not to dwell on the physical aspects of my life.  I deal with them, but I don’t obsess. And may I say, without the loving support of both my husband and twin brother, my outlook might have been completely different.  They keep me grounded and don’t let me take myself seriously.  My husband makes me laugh at myself by doing silly antics in response to what I do.  I absolutely love it when he makes fun because he doesn’t do it to be mean, but rather to make me smile and laugh.  And I do.

      • #14034
        Ally
        Keymaster

        This response made me smile, Janice. Your positive outlook is contagious. I was having a rough day but reading your words helped me change my mindset. Thank you for being you!

        • #14037
          Janice Hetke
          Participant

          Ally, I’m glad I made you smile, but what was happening to you that made the beginning of your day rough?  I really would like to know.

    • #14024
      Jean Mellano
      Participant

      Janice, I am glad you have a great support team.  Your response above brought back a wonderful memory of my late husband who helped me through cancer.  In 2007, I battled tonsil cancer and Steve was by my side at the time with his steadfast support. Critical to my healing and recovery was Steve’s ability to help me keep my sense of humor. At one very low point during radiation treatment, I was whining about my pain and Steve said, “Do you want me to get the hats?” I asked, “What hats?” Steve replied, “Hats for the Pity Party.” We both laughed so hard. From that moment on, I knew I would survive cancer.  Laughter is key in facing adversity…

    • #14038
      Janice Hetke
      Participant

      Jean, your pity party hat story had my husband & I laughing out loud.  That’s just the kind of thing my husband would have said.  One of my favorite stories is when my husband Bill & I went out to a little Italian restaurant.  I forget the subject matter, but I remember I was very animated as I was speaking.  I lifted my left arm, holding a fork with a speared meatball at the end.  Naturally, because my arm was upright, I started to tremor a little harder than usual. Before I knew it, my arm waved back and forth several times, hard enough to launch the tiny Italian missile right past my husband’s head.  He didn’t hesitate.  He immediately went into a defensive mode; bending his head as he covered it with his arms, all the while dodging additional unseen, and unknown, meatballs.  He had me in stitches.  Instead of my being embarrassed, my wonderful  husband diffused the situation and created a funny memory.  Humor really is the best medicine.

      • #14039
        Jean Mellano
        Participant

        Hilarious!  Thank you for sharing that story, my eyes started to fill up  as I thought that sounds exactly like my sweet Steve would do to keep me smiling.

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