I downed a bottle of Alka Seltzer severe cold medicine in a water bottle before I stepped on stage at the Autoimmune Walk NYC to speak. My chest was burning. My voice was fading and my nose was running but I was at Pier 95 and I was going to speak. I was going to make the friends, relatives and co-workers that supported me and came to hear me proud.
I stepped up to the microphone with my speech in my hand and I folded it in half. I decided not to read it. Rather, I chose to speak from my heart. I told them I got a triple a plan; a plan to accept, adapt and achieve.
I said, “William Shakespeare asked: “What’s in a name?” I submit to you that there is freedom and power in a name. Knowing what I had led me to Mass General Hospital to the Igg4 center; a place where hundreds of other people suffering like me receive treatment. Knowing what I had let me know that the procedures is endured were necessary; that my illness was not just in my head. The name of the sickness freed me to find the best doctors to treat me. It also released from the fear that there was no hope for me. Accepting I had an autoimmune disease, like most of you, meant understanding that I can’t be cured but I can be treated; I can have a better quality of life.
Once I came to that realization, I had to learn to live with my chronic illness; that has required adaptation. For better or worse, I’m not like everyone else or even the next person afflicted with the same autoimmune disease. I had adapt so I could continue to achieve all that I want in life.”
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