4 posts tagged “#MoreThan”

“I promise not to look upon myself with the scornful eyes of my past” – PatientsLikeMe’s Becca shares her promise

Posted July 24th, 2017 by

Becca Getto is an Associate Product Manager at PatientsLikeMe, and is recovering from an eating disorder. During her time in Monte Nedo Laurel Hill treatment program, she wrote a poetic and moving promise to herself, and in it she shares her past struggles and hopes for the future. Becca is more than her condition: she’s kind, caring, passionate and ambitious. Here’s her promise…

Stories about eating disorders

I promise to walk through life with my bare feet. I promise to feel the blades of grass tickling my soles, the warm grains of sand between my toes, the sharp edges of tiny pebbles beneath my feet. I promise to keep moving forward, to keep walking over the damp earth of a dirt trail, over hot pavement and uneven ground, through freezing snow, through overgrown weeds, through thorn bushes, through brambles and brush.

I promise to splash in puddles and jump into piles of autumn leaves. I promise to no longer hide my toes, to no longer be ashamed of my imperfections, blemishes and flaws. I promise to paint my toes only when I want to use their hue as a display of self-expression rather than an attempt to cover up reminders of my past embarrassment and mistakes. I promise to keep walking on my still wobbly feet for that is the only way they will one day feel more sturdy.

 

I promise to take step after step after step until my feet grow calloused and strong in the places that need it and still remain, ticklish, sensitive and soft in those that don’t.

 

I promise to appreciate my feet because they are truly incredible – they carry me, my entire body, mind and spirit, they withstand my weight and keep me rooted to the ground while simultaneously allowing me to make great leaps and bounds, jumps and strides. They are so rugged and strong yet still sensitive to the smallest sensation of touch. I promise to learn from my feet, to study the footprints I have left behind in order to choose a new path forward. I promise to no longer be ashamed of my feet and the sound they make or the marks they leave behind as I tread bravely through the world. I promise to be proud of my feet and my ankles and my legs and knees and hips and thighs and hands and arms and elbows and shoulders and neck and head and ears and nose and mouth and lips and teeth and eyes and brain and chest and heart and stomach.

 

I promise to even be proud of my stomach because what would I do without that feeling in my gut telling me right from wrong and the butterflies that dance around giddily when I hold his hand for the first time.

 

I promise to take pride in my whole body and self if for no other reason than simply because they are mine. I promise to trip and stumble and fall. I promise to struggle and I promise to cry. And when I do, I promise not to look upon myself with the scornful eyes of my past, but with a more weathered pair of eyes, a more compassionate pair of eyes, with my eyes. Eyes that while they still judge and scrutinize can also appreciate the glints of beauty, possibility, potential and hope. Eyes that know that self-criticism and self-punishment and self-denial do not serve me and it is, instead, through love and understanding and forgiveness that I will be able to be my best self, my happiest self, my most kind, caring, compassionate, creative, unique, ambitious, outgoing, shy, quirky, innovative, spontaneous, thoughtful, timid, courageous, intelligent, wild and peaceful self.

I know from experience that it is not easy, changing one’s vision, beginning, to cast aside the critical lens.

 

It takes work, it takes pain, it takes motivation, it takes patience, but it is worth it to begin to gain even the smallest glimpse of self-acceptance and self-love. But once I tasted that precious un-forbidden fruit it has become nearly impossible not to yearn for another drop of that sweet nectar, impossible not to sew more seeds of self-compassion and to care for them tenderly and to watch them grow inch by inch, stem to twig to branch to trunk to fruitful tree. I still toil in the garden with my watering can, my rake and hoe, removing the rocks and rubble, the dead vines, and weeds that make the soil so inhospitable to life and growth. I still work the land and sweat in the sun but watching my saplings grow, knowing that one day they will give me the sweet sweet fruit I so yearn for makes everything, the pain, the hurt, the discouragement, the struggle, the embarrassment, the shame, the fear, the exhaustion, the unrelenting critic within me, it makes enduring it all so so worthwhile. So my final promise is that I will never stop sewing and planting and watering and trimming and weeding and working in my garden with my bare feet until I find for myself true, deep, unrelenting, and unconditional love for my whole beautiful self.

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#MoreThan multiple sclerosis: Guest blogger Cathy Chester’s journey as a writer, mom, advocate and optimist

Posted July 6th, 2017 by

As part of our ongoing #MoreThan series, we’re continuing to highlight patients’ stories of all the ways they’re more than their diagnoses. Here, Cathy Chester – blogger, wife, mother and advocate – shares her diagnosis story and how she’s much more than MS.

#MoreThan MS

When I was in my 20s I was thrilled to work for a large publishing house in Manhattan. It was an exciting dream job but I was competing against other recent college graduates who were all jockeying for promotions. To meet the challenge, I needed to be quick on my feet and look polished. I arrived early each morning wearing a beautifully tailored business suit and high heels. I could taste that promotion.

But fate stepped in when I least expected it. My 2-inch heels gradually became unbearable to walk in and I started to struggle to maintain my balance. I finally lost the battle one day when my right shoe slipped off my foot without notice. The growing numbness in my legs and feet masked the loss of my shoe. It was time to see a doctor.

After a CAT Scan, spinal tap and MRI I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis.

I am more than my diagnosis.

When I told my boyfriend I had an incurable, unpredictable disease with no medications to curb my symptoms I held my breath, waiting for him to say, “Goodbye. See you around. Have a nice life.” Instead I heard, “We’ll get through this together. A life without you is no life at all.” We were married two years later.

I am a wife and a fighter.

Four years passed when we learned the happy news that I was pregnant. After two devastating miscarriages, we were overjoyed. At the time, I was driving with hand controls and walked with a cane. I was anxious about being a good mother despite constant fatigue, numbness and weakness. Then something extraordinary happened. As my baby grew inside my belly my hormones gave me a second chance. I no longer needed the cane and hand controls, I felt boosts of energy and the numbness and weakness temporarily disappeared. When our healthy baby was born, I called him my sweet angel.

I am a loving mother to a beautiful, happy son.

My relapsing-remitting MS reared its ugly head in those early days of motherhood. I learned how to manage my daily symptoms of the returning fatigue and numbness. I’d nap when my son napped and prioritized what I needed to do over what I wanted to. When walking became difficult I took intravenous prednisone (steroids) whose side effects were troublesome.

Eventually disease-modifying medications were approved and after trying the first two, number three was the charm. If you were diagnosed in the Dark Ages of MS, prior to medications, having options was Nirvana. As the old jingle said, better living through chemistry.

I am grateful.

Years passed and our son was preparing for college. I began questioning my future, wondering how to create a new career for myself. I dug deep to find what my passions were but it didn’t take long to find. I always loved to write and to help people manage their MS journey. I decided to go back to school to earn a certificate in patient advocacy. Then I married my newly acquired skills to my skills as a writer. That’s when I created my blog, AnEmpoweredSpirit.com, as a resource for patients to read and learn from my story, and to offer the latest news and information about MS.

I am a patient advocate. I am a writer. I love paying it forward.

As my blog grew and became recognized as an award-winning resource I began receiving offers to write for MS and health-related websites. I now contribute to three, moderate discussions for one and am the official blogger for a large international consortium whose mission is to improve the lives of those with MS.

I am a blogger, contributor and moderator. I am an active listener.

My professional life impacts me in countless positive ways, something I never imagined. My readers touch my heart when they share their joys and sorrows. I am deeply honored to hear their stories. Going from a blank screen to a message that touches others is magical. Helping the community makes all my efforts worthwhile.

I am grateful for this shared journey.

I am deeply humbled by loyal followers and eternally grateful for the love and support I receive from family, friends, colleagues and the people I’ve come to know both on and offline. I look to the future to find more ways to actively use my voice to continue making a difference in people’s lives.

 

I am more than my MS.

I am a wife, mother, daughter, sister and friend.

I am a writer, speaker, moderator and advocate.

I advocate for animal rights and love our two beautiful cats.

I am obsessed with classic Hollywood films, the arts and culture.

I love music and swoon when I hear Frank Sinatra or Ella Fitzgerald.

I am a lover of books.

I feel at one with nature because it brings me inner peace and serenity.  

I love to hike and knit.

I love gentle yoga and practicing gratitude and mindfulness.

I am an optimist who always looks for silver linings.

 

 

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