“Be glad you are walking into my door instead of the cancer ward.”
Those were the words of Dr. Jacobs, my first rheumatologist, when he met my parents and I after I was diagnosed with JRA, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. That fateful day changed the course of my life, and for forty years I was convinced that my painful disease was a gorilla on my back that prevented me from ever being healthy.
I was wrong.
It took me forty years, and a flare up of my disease that stopped me in my tracks for years, to realize something that changed my life once again:
Health is not the absence of disease. Instead it is found in how you approach your life, the actions you take, the beliefs you choose, and the thoughts that consume you.
In the midst of my pain I decided to stop listening to the voices outside my head that were telling me how sick I was and focus on what I knew to be true. My pain and JRA are the greatest teachers in my life. They have taught me compassion, inner strength, gratitude, true love, how to be my own best friend, resilience, fortitude, and joy.
And I want to share what I’ve learned with you.
"I believe that if life gives you lemons, you should make lemonade...And try to find somebody whose life has given them vodka, and have a party." – Ron White