#872 Playing the Hand You're Dealt

This is going to sound like one of those cheesy motivational posters you see hung for too many years in ignored spaces. 

“Your biggest challenge can become your greatest asset.”  

I know, I rolled my own eyes as I wrote that…

But here’s the rest of the story.  I spent this weekend at the Patient Parent Conference for The Cooley’s Anemia Foundation.  The disease the foundation represent is called Thalassemia.  It is incurable and fatal. 

The good news is that it is treatable but the treatment is arduous, and complications abound.  Blood transfusions, every two weeks from birth to death are just the tip of the iceberg in treating this rare blood disease.

Suffice it to say that the life of a patient with Thalassemia can be dominated by uncertainty, fear, pain and extreme inconvenience. 

But that isn’t what I saw.  What I saw was an endless parade of patients who talked about their disease as their motivation to achieve.  I met young patients with MD’s, PHD’s, MSN, FNP’s.  I listened as patient after patient spoke about the discipline needed to fight the disease and how that discipline carried over and served them in life.  I sat in rapt attention as they told stories of horrific, dark times that almost consumed them but, instead, they turned that dark time into a springboard to grow to great heights.

It was truly awe-inspired.  Each and everyone of these wonderfully successful young people CREDITED THE DISEASE.  Not one said that they achieved despite the fact that they have Thalassemia. They said they achieved because they have Thalassemia.