Battling a chronic disease can be especially difficult during the holidays as you manage travel, changes in weather and increased participation in activities with family and friends. While it can be easy to focus on these challenges, the holiday season provides us with an opportunity to reflect on the year and remember all that we are thankful for.
With Thanksgiving right around the corner, we asked our Ambassadors to speak out about the things they are thankful for when it comes to managing their chronic conditions. From amazing support systems, to learning how to practice self-care, there are many reasons our Ambassadors are thankful this holiday season.
1. “I am so thankful for my amazing support system that I have found in my family and friends,” said South Carolina native Samantha Bowick. “They have never doubted the endometriosis symptoms or pain I have experienced over the last eight years, and they have always been there when I’ve need them to be. My parents and sister have helped take care of me when I couldn’t take care of myself after surgeries, and I will be forever grateful to them for their unwavering support. I am also so thankful to be able to use my story with endometriosis to meet and help others who are suffering with the disease.”
2. “Due to my limited energy, I am really grateful that I have come to the point in my life where I choose not to engage in superficial relationships, but instead, I spend time with the people that matter most to me,” explained Claire Sachs, founder of the Patient Advocate’s Chronicle. “I have dealt with my conditions for many years, and I have been lucky enough to identify those special relationships – they are the ones who stick with you not matter how often you try to push them away. Whether its family, friendly or romantic, every relationship I have is worth the time I give it.”
3. “I am thankful that I found my humility, civility, obedience and spiritual calling in my battle with kidney disease and the co-morbidities that ensue,” kidney advocate Patrick O’ Gee said. “As just one of the many voices and faces in the endless sea of kidney patients, I want to continue serving this disease’s most underserved, undervalued and disparate population as long as I have the passion and drive to do so. This is where my graciousness lies in the midst of my battle with kidney disease, diabetes, hypertension and genetic-related disorders.”
4. Oklahoma mother, wife and chronic disease advocate Kristin Klontz said, “I'm grateful for the new perspective being ill has offered me. I've learned not to worry so much about the little things that don't truly matter, like a perfectly kept home, empty laundry baskets or dust-free surfaces. I am also thankful that I am learning self-love. As a wife and a mother, it's easy to get lost in taking care of everybody else. I'm learning to take care of myself without feeling guilty – it’s not selfish, it’s smart.”
5. “I am thankful for my amazing support system, especially my mom,” explained California college student Sydney Reed. “On my bad days, when I really needed her, she would work an eight-hour shift and then drive an hour to my apartment – in 5 o’clock traffic – and do whatever she could to help me. She would get me food, pick up medications, do laundry, clean and occasionally even take me to classes when I wasn’t well enough to drive myself. She never made me feel like a burden. I’m so thankful to have a mom that loves me so much and is willing to do anything in her power to help me be happy and successful.”
Studies show that expressing gratitude is good for your health, so we ask you: What are you thankful for this holiday season? Join the Chronic Disease Coalition, share your story and become part of our community.