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Balancing living with a chronic illness while running a business

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I graduated from Framingham State University and received my Bachelor’s in Fashion Design and Merchandising. After taking a year break after graduating in 2007, I wanted to further my education and to get my Master’s Degree in Business, because I always knew I wanted to be a business owner. While in graduate school receiving my Master’s, degree was when I started to experience symptoms like repeatedly falling, my leg would just give out and I would fall to the floor without being able to get myself back up. After going to many doctors’ appointments including many neurologist along with extensive testing, it was determined I was diagnosed with Limb Girdle Muscular Dystrophy. With that information, I was in shock, confused, I never heard of it and was trying to figure out what came next. After shutting down and not really telling anyone what was going on with me, I knew I had to cope with what I had. I had to come to terms with it and try to figure what I can do to overcome this chronic illness. I knew it was not something that I can cure or just take a tablet and it will be gone. After doing some research and speaking with doctors, I knew there was no cure for Muscular Dystrophy.

I continued to work as a merchandise coordinator for many different companies such as, Perry Van Husen,Tommy Hilfiger, Fossil and Calvin Klein and many others over the years. At the moment I work as a Merchandise Coordinator for Tommy John’s Men’s Underwear. My overall passion right now is owning my own t-shirt line called Girls Chronically Rock. I was inspired by the name because I wanted something with the name chronic in it and wanted to create something to help inspire women like myself to let them know, “we rock,” no matter what we may be going through we can accomplish and do anything we put our minds to. I wanted to create this line to help inspire not only women with Chronic illnesses but just to help inspire women in general to help us feel confident, motivated and empowered. I recently just added a few more t-shirt designs with the logo called “Trust Your Dopeness” which is to help inspire people to let them know to believe in yourself, trust your ability and do what you believe with no hesitation. I have other designs on my website and I do plan on adding more over time.

I always knew I wanted to be a business owner because I never liked the office work setting and could never keep still sitting at a desk and I was always just bored.  I need to be my own BOSS. When creating my t-shirt line, I knew I had to think about my future since being diagnosed with Muscular Dystrophy, I did not know what the future would hold for me. It was important for me to create a business where I can work from home, managing my own hours and something that I can  build into a major empire later on and have revenue coming, because I never know what could happen in the future with my Muscular Dystrophy.

Living with muscular dystrophy every day is a waiting game because I don’t know what my body is going to feel like. I never know if my body may feel more fatigue than the other day. I am not sure if I may have a fall one day, I just know how my body is going to feel, or how its going to react to different things. An able body person would never know what’s its like living with a chronic illness because the fatigue is not the same as what an able bodied person would consider tired. Some days i feel more tired than others, and some days I may feel more energized than most. Balancing a business while living with a chronic illness definitely has its challenges, with my body sometimes starting to ache when I am on the computer doing orders, or writing blogs, etc. Just sitting in my wheelchair my body can sometimes feel numb and tired and it would feel good to just move my legs if my body allowed it. I try to stay positive most days, however I still have my days. I focus on my business Girls Chronically Rock to keep me motivated and inspired and keep going especially when I hear and receive wonderful messages from strangers, customers that keeps me going, and makes me feel good. All I can do is take it day by day, stay strong, and wish for the best and hopeful one day there will be a treatment/cure for Muscular Dystrophy.

After embracing my Muscular Dystrophy and bringing awareness about it, last year 2017 I became the Massachusetts Muscular Dystrophy State Ambassador. I was honored and excited to be asked to be ambassador. I knew this would be a good experience for me and I will be able to bring awareness to the Muscular Dystrophy Association and also look at this as my business where I talk at different speaking engagements, sharing about my everyday life living with Muscular Dystrophy and also connecting with other companies and people to help raise money for the organization. After having such a great year with the Muscular Dystrophy Association, they asked me to become the 2018 Muscular Dystrophy State Ambassador and I was ecstatic and filled with joy that they would ask me to become Ambassador again. I already have some new ideas and plan on working with the Muscular Dystrophy Association while collaborating with my t-shirt line Girls Chronically Rock. Once my t-shirt business begins to grow, I plan on having some of the proceeds go towards the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

What I keep telling myself on a regular basis is, “Never Give up on your business,”, keep going no matter what, if you feel down and don’t feel energized, it will all be worth it in the end.” You are a business owner”.

While juggling a chronic illness and owning my own business, I realize eating healthy is very important and makes me feel good. I try to exercise and get in some physical activity every other day while eating healthy, because that makes me feel more energized and focused.. Knowing I have a chronic illness and each day I am not sure what the future may hold for me, I try to stay motivated, focused on my business, so that I can succeed.

This is a special quote I read one-day and felt inspired by it. It read “Your illness does not define you, your strength and courage does.” -Unknown-, Another one is “Never let the things you can’t do, prevent you from doing the things you can.” -Coach John Wooden-

You can check out my t-shirt line Girls Chronically Rock at www.girlschronicallyrock.com


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