Our Stories

Life Story: Before and After

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I lost every member of my immediate family – my grandmother, father, mother, husband, and my best friend who was also my college roommate. For my entire life, I was constantly on the move, heading toward the brightest future imaginable.

I received a world class education, met and married the man of my dreams – Mr.Darcy and Rhett Butler all rolled into one! – I created new businesses, and danced the night away in cities all over the world. I did have terrible asthma, but I had good treatments and managed it very well by freeing myself of all negative triggers.


The grim reaper of illness and death came into my world over a slow, agonizing, eight-year period. This relentless monster quickly collapsed my life. My grandmother died, my father (the person I was closest to in the world), my lifelong friend Joe, my mother; and if that was not enough, I then lost my husband after his valiant battle with cancer.

When I thought it could get no worse, my dearest friend Paula – closer to me than a sister – was brutally murdered (no, I am not joking). My mind, body, and spirit, suffered a total collapse.

How does one cope in the face of such loss? How can one rebuild a castle with not only an absence of support, but also, without any necessary tools? I felt for a time like a wounded animal and hid in the covers of my home, often twirled into a fetal position for hours and days. Eventually, I had the psychotic break with reality I sensed for a while might come.

Now, eight years later, I have managed to uncover new meaning in my life. I cope with failing lungs, regardless of how difficult that struggle turned out to be each day of my life. Every day I wake up and decide to take responsibility for my own health, irrespective of outside demands, and play “heal for the day.” This is a song well known to those with chronic illness. Each day I envision a new beginning.

I moved across the country to escape the losses and bad memories. I slowly reengaged with my church, my spiritual home. I found meaningful work and loving new friends by being open to new ideas. The work, love, and passion for new adventures restored my psyche and enabled me to recapture my formerly productive life. I suddenly had a future again, and the desire to live it to the fullest.

I am certainly very different today. Though I will never be the same, I happen to like the new me even more. I still face a debilitating and progressively fatal lung disease, but I can honestly say that I am optimistic. I would even go so far as to say I am happy again! Please, hear me now: never, ever give up. You really do have everything you need to succeed, in spite of it all. I promise.