Monday, October 12, 2015

Everyday Heroes & Heroines – My Sister!

I truly believe that each of us are privileged to know and love everyday heroes and heroines – not those that exhibit bravery in extraordinary circumstances – but the unsung brave who fight everyday to survive in an inhospitable, sometime unfair world.  These are not athletes, movie stars, television personalities or military fighters. Instead they are people that are faced with adversity or challenges that get up every morning, get out of bed and just take the next step no matter how painful.

A little more than 10 years ago a diagnostic exam noted a lump in one of her breasts. She scheduled a lumpectomy. A lumpectomy is an ordinary procedure undergone by thousands of women throughout the world daily. Some women receive scary results. Others are relieved. My sister was relieved. The lump was benign.

However, the procedure that required general anesthesia caused a latent autoimmune disease to come alive – lupus. It took several years to diagnose, caused her to lose weight she couldn’t afford to lose, turned its dastardly attention to her pancreas & digestive system, awakened celiac disease, and caused her to face days, weeks, months, and years of uncertainty.

Once her myriad of doctors ruled out every other potential cause of her deteriorating condition, they determined she had lupus and finally found a pharmaceutical cocktail that could make life tolerable.

Most people in her shoes would have succumbed to the fear, the frustration, and loss and curled up into a ball of denial or self-pity or embraced the concept of disability. But she did not.  She refused to accept that a disease would cause her to give up a career she loved as a PhD and teacher; that she could not be there for her children; that she should just give up on life and be a shell of what she strived so hard to accomplish.

So she underwent experimental treatment, continued to teach, researched recipes and prepared food for her family that she couldn’t eat, traveled to seminars and family events and took her own food, celebrated small victories and refused to give into defeat.

Last Friday her doctor told her she needed emergency surgery. Her daughter, my niece, was scheduled to be married 8 days later. Delaying the surgery could have been catastrophic. So she scheduled the surgery for Monday and knew she would press through the adversity and be there for her daughter on Saturday.

Fortunately, she has some amazing friends that gave love, support and encouragement.  She pushed through the pain, made the decision to celebrate life, ensure the wedding went forward as scheduled and caused everybody who knows her to admire the fortitude, dedication to family and love of her children.

We are sisters and have had our disagreement, arguments and misunderstandings over the years. However, I can think of nobody that I admire more as an everyday heroine.

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