Yesterday Oprah’s choice of guest hit it out of the ballpark. A woman, Monica Jorge, who had everything going for her, a loving fiance, a 9 year old daughter and she just gave birth to a baby girl. Unfortunately the story takes a huge turn for the worse. Right after giving birth they learn that the woman has contracted a flesh eating bacteria. In the end the new mom along with internal surgery had both arms and both legs amputated. At this time she’s had 37 surgeries and isn’t finished yet. Let’s look at the lessons we can learn from Monica as it relates to anyone facing a chronic or life threatening illness.
1. Follow the Chinese proverb, “Fall down seven times, get up eight”. Perseverance is crucial for anyone facing a health challenge. Having the capacity to explore your limits will get you through the challenge.
2. Unearth deep in your soul what your priorities are. If your family is a priority understand that not having you around will be a bigger detriment than the struggle with your illness. If your work on this earth isn’t done then make sure everyone around you knows that you still have work to do, include the Universe in on that memo.
3. We all need champions. Jenny McCarthy works extensively promoting information and policy reform for families facing autism. Know who the champions are that face the same health challenges. Here are just a few: Cancer: Lance Armstrong; Parkinson’s: Michael J. Fox; Multiple Sclerosis: Montel Williams; Spinal Cord Injury: Christopher Reeve; Post-Partum Depression: Brooke Shields; HIV: Rudy Galindo. These individuals bring recognition and a spotlight that can bring money for research and treatment.
4. The human spirit is larger than the human body. If we look at the challenges Monica faced there was a well of energy that was superhuman. She was able to go down deep and summon the courage and conviction to not only beat the illness, but to get through rehab in record time so she could care for her family. Loving connection is that force that recharged her battery and defined her mission.
5. Throw pity out the window. This isn’t to say that having the “why me” moment shouldn’t be a part of your life, but give it a container and set limits. You have a lot of work to do and the pity pot will drag you down, lower your immune system, increase depression and create a scenario where pessimism reigns supreme. If you need to express those feelings set a time during the week with a finite amount of time and go to that place and then get back to the job at hand…getting well.
Find a hero that you can relate to. Monica’s story was so big and so amazing but I know these kinds of stories exist in your own neighborhoods. There are lots of amazing people who are fighting illnesses in your community, you don’t have to look far. Overcoming adversity is the name of the game. Come up with a plan and fight for the life you want. It may not be the life you intended, but it’s all you got so do the most with the resources you have. You’re a miracle, so live like one!