By Tammie Allegro
Recently on Facebook, we asked our fans to finish the following statement: “Even though I have a chronic disease, I can still…” I was so impressed by the comments that followed. A comment made by Sherry Wray really struck me: “I can still do anything I put my mind to; I have a chronic disease, but I won’t let it define me.” Sherry isn’t the only person to express this sentiment. I think it is almost the mantra of the immune globulin (IG) Community. Every day, someone in this community is defying the odds and doing more than the doctors thought they could or should. That doesn’t happen by chance, it happens with strength and perseverance.
When I was 19, my mother was diagnosed with a chronic illness. From day one, she made a decision to fight the disease with everything she had. She never wanted to be known for being sick. Rather, she wanted people to see her overcome challenges so that they would know that she wasn’t the disease … she just had the disease. Early on, the symptoms were only noticeable to her closest family and friends. It was hard to watch and even harder to explain to those who didn’t know her. The simple task of walking was probably the most obvious sign that something was wrong. She went from walking normal to struggling with balance, and eventually she would walk while leaning completely backward just so she wouldn’t fall.
Even though all of her basic motor functions were suffering, she never slowed down. I know there were days when it would have been easier to just lay down and accept her fate, but that just wasn’t her. She loved her family and she was going to be present for her kids and her grandbabies. At every sporting event with a member of my family playing, you could be sure of one thing: In the stands, there was going to be a screaming, proud-as-a-peacock grandmother/mother sitting in the stands cheering them on. In that regard, she was larger than life. Holidays and church were no exception. She would do whatever it took to be sure she was at church every Sunday. There wasn’t a single holiday when she wasn’t there making everything perfect.
I learned so many lessons from my mother. These are treasures of knowledge and character that you cannot be taught simply with words; you learn them by observing someone’s actions and commitment. There isn’t a manual on how to cope and persevere through chronic illness, but there are definitely examples along the journey.
As I read the stories in IG Living, the posts on Facebook and the comments on this blog, I am reminded of my mother’s strength and grace. It takes such tenacity to work through a disease that is telling you to throw in the towel. This quote by Charles Spurgeon sums it up well: “By perseverance the snail reached the ark.” No matter what is given to us in life, we have a choice of how to handle it. We’d love to hear from more of you. How have you learned to persevere?