My rare blood disorders have helped me build important life skills

Resilience, strength, and hope are among the traits I've cultivated

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by Brandi Lewis |

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Last Saturday, I went to the movie theater to watch “A Quiet Place: Day One.” This film is a prequel to “A Quiet Place” and “A Quiet Place: Part 2.”

As the movie began, I was introduced to the main character, Samira (“Sam”), played by Lupita Nyong’o. Then, I quickly learned that Sam was facing a terminal illness. Being diagnosed with aplastic anemia and paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria (PNH), I’ve had my fair share of highs and lows while battling serious illnesses.

In a previous column, I explained how I’m reminded of my own journey while watching movies in which a character is facing major health issues. I shared ways I move past these emotional triggers.

Watching the new “A Quiet Place” film made me think about the impact movies have had on my life with rare blood disorders. Some are tough for me to watch, but, importantly, they help viewers better understand what life with health issues can look like.

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As I learned more about Sam, I found myself relating to her in many ways. It took strength and courage for her to face all life had thrown her way, especially as the world was ending.

I related to the beautiful bond she had with her cat, Frodo. Frodo was a source of comfort and peace as Sam weathered the storms she faced.

Lastly, I related to her wanting to help everyone around her while she was battling her own mental, physical, and emotional issues. I won’t spoil the movie, but if you watch it through to the end, you’ll come to fully recognize Sam’s strength.

I believe that, like Sam, we all are capable of showing bravery and hope in the face of fear and the unknown. Sometimes it takes a traumatic situation to bring these characteristics out, but once that happens, it’s up to us to build on these skills.

According to the Mayo Clinic, resilience is a skill that can be built. “Getting more resilient takes time and practice,” the article notes.

Living with blood disorders has brought out traits I never knew I possessed. Resilience, courage, hope, awareness, bravery, and mental strength have helped me fight my health battle.

How I’ve strengthened certain skills

Enduring aplastic anemia and PNH requires time and patience, giving me the opportunity to grow as a person. I’ve learned to build the skills mentioned above in the following ways:

1. Do one thing every day that scares me. This was one way I gained more bravery and courage. Whether I was undergoing another surgery or getting poked with yet another needle, I was accomplishing something outside my comfort zone.

2. Lean on my faith. To develop more hope and patience, I found myself leaning on my faith. It gave me the mental strength I needed to face another day and keep believing I would one day be healed and strong.

3. Practice gratitude. By writing down or reflecting on one thing I was grateful for each day, I was able to remember that “this too shall pass,” as the saying goes. It helped me put life into perspective and know that, no matter what I was facing, I was thankful to be in my right mind and able to walk and talk. These things are so easily taken for granted, and giving thanks helped me center myself.

What skills have you been able to build while battling health issues? Please share in the comments below.

Note: PNH News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of PNH News or its parent company, Bionews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria.


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