“If you are struggling with anything in your life right now, know that through your faith, your own sense of self worth, and with the help of friends and family, you can overcome it and find hope”…
My son was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, Addison’s Disease and Hasimoto’s disease after being hospitalized and quarantined with the Influenza A virus in February 2018, his junior year of high school.
In March of his senior year, he gave a convocation speech to over 800 people at his school. He invited us to attend. When we asked what he was talking about, he said, “You know, my life and stuff.” I was nervous. I brought along my grandmother’s hankie.
We sat in the back of the chapel and watched as the students, faculty and staff filed in. The president of the school came to the podium to introduce him. He told us that "today’s speaker will share a story about suffering, dealing with fear and difficulty but also about hope". My eyes started tearing up.
My son walked up to the podium and smiled out at the crowd. His speech was serious and sad. He spoke in a strong voice about his own mortality. But, it was also witty and inspirational. He talked about “shooting up” insulin during class, his classmates laughed, and he continued to smile his way through it. At the end of the speech, they gave him a standing ovation.
I was blown away; my tears were streaming at this point! I was proud that he was determined to share his life and his struggles, but also so sad that his convocation speech was about his diagnosis of these three diseases.
This is an excerpt from his speech, printed with his permission of course!
No one ever expects any of these life changing events, we just have to make do with what has been given to us. There are ways to keep your fire of hope burning, whether it’s through family, friends, faith or your own perseverance. Remember its not just one thing that will help you overcome it: pushing through the pain and finding ways to laugh, your own hope and finding happiness in the little things you do each day.
As I sat there listening, I realized that through all of this he always finds a way to laugh, on good days and on bad days. He always smiles and when you ask how he is, no matter how he is physically feeling, he will always respond, “Great!”
Still now, two years later, he is teaching me how to manage my fears, how to smile through the pain and find the good in each day. I watch him and I learn from him. When I have to help him through a rough night, he thanks me. My 20 year old son, squeezes my hand and he thanks me.
My life changed on the day he was diagnosed, but I’m not living with these diseases, he is. He does not get a break. He has to carry medication wherever he goes. He has to wear medical devices to stay alive. He has to do the work of his organs, since they have failed him. But through it all, he smiles and laughs. When he feels good, he makes the most of the day. When he feels bad, he rests. Through it all, he keeps his fire of hope burning. And, I promise, I will too.