When I was five years old, I was diagnosed with chronic asthma. Due to the severity of this disease, I was told that I would have a very short life expectancy; I would not live to see my ninth birthday. With such a dreary prognosis, I was forced to grow up fast, as my normal daily activities were drastically affected. I required lots of hospitalization, home health care and medical care. Throughout my childhood and adulthood, I basically lived in a bubble, being under close observation by my parents and numerous doctors. My family and I educated ourselves about the illness as much as possible and modified our lifestyles to reflect what we learned. My mother had a strong Christian faith and believed in the power of prayer.
My parents and siblings never pitied me during childhood, and I was disciplined and punished like any child who misbehaved. I was held accountable and made responsible for my actions. As I defied the odds and reached my tenth birthday, I felt like a true survivor. However, when I was 15, I had become so ill I just wanted to die. I was tired of suffering. I was tired of being sick all the time. I was tired of hospitals, medicine and doctors. And most importantly, I felt guilty about all of sacrifices my family made because of my illness.
When I overheard my parents talking about how my asthma was weakening my heart and causing other health problems, I made up my mind to fight even harder and not succumb to this debilitating disease. I reassured my family that I was going to be fine. My doctors strongly recommended that relocating to a different climate would provide me with a much better quality of life, so immediately after my high school graduation, I relocated to Chicago. I left behind my family and friends for a strange place I knew absolutely nothing about –- except for the fact that it was my new beginning that would afford me an opportunity to live better. Oh, how I eagerly embraced this new bittersweet endeavor! Leaving home, family, friends and a familiar comfort zone was a huge undertaking, but it was something I had to do. I have no regrets.
What I learned from it.
- Living with obstacles is much easier with awareness and knowledge.
- By not focusing on my obstacles and challenges, I was able to successfully plan and implement successful strategies.
- How to control the illness and not let it control me.
- Not using my obstacles as a crutch to impede my personal and professional growth and career success.
- Not taking life and people for granted.
- Having the love and support of family makes coping with obstacles much easier.
- Regardless of the obstacle, never give up.
- Maintaining a positive attitude helped me to cope better.
- Coming out of my comfort zone and being a risk-taker produced positive results.
How I have grown from this experience.
- Obstacles build true character.
- I have become a much stronger person, physically, mentally and spiritually.
- I realize that we all face obstacles; however, when we share them, we encourage others.
- I have a deeper appreciation for life and living it to the fullest.