Life is not fair.
A Personal Story Blog By Kelly Fite
At the age of 9, I was diagnosed with a rare blood disorder that only affected 1 out of every 100,000 people. With no known cause or cure, I became a guinea pig. Immune suppressants and cancer treatments were the only forms of medication that would keep me alive. The side effects of these medications caused me to gain 40 pounds and grow a mustache one month, followed by becoming bald and too thin looking the next.
As a young girl, I quickly became the target of bullying and threats. I would come home from school on a daily basis crying because rumors were being spread or someone would threaten to kill me by stabbing me with a pencil. Not only was my physical health a battle, but also my emotional health was fragile. Born and raised in a Christian home, I knew I had to rely on my family and faith every second of every day.
“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” Psalms 46:1 (NIV)
I was one of the first 10 people in the state of Michigan to receive a radioactive scan determining if removing my spleen could be a long-term treatment solution. The results came back inconclusive in fear that some of my other organs would take over the destruction of my good cells. At the time, I was in middle school and we decided to explore other options. I went on to endure 10 years of chemotherapy in order to maintain healthy blood counts. In 2011, nearly 13 years after my diagnosis, I was engaged to my high school sweetheart. I had decided that I did not want to have to deal with my blood disorder in this new chapter I was about to start. My family, future husband, and I prayed for answers, wisdom, and guidance. While we knew it was a risk, I ended up moving forward with the removal of my spleen. The surgery was a huge success and was a form of remission. Praise God.
Fast forward to the summer of 2018. As a family, we enjoyed spending time at the beach and water park. Every time I would sit in the sun, I would develop a rash and break out in hives. Each week that went by I experienced something new: extreme fatigue, headaches, and joint pain, just to name a few. After months of questions and doctor appointments, I was given a diagnosis of Systemic Lupus Erythematosus. Shortly after, we discovered that I also had organ involvement and was diagnosed with stage 4 chronic kidney disease.
My initial reaction was defeat and anger. I was physically exhausted and did not know how mentally I was going to overcome the ups and downs of yet another incurable autoimmune disease. I was so mad at God. Why me? I already did my fair share of hospital stays, blood draws, treatments, and clinical trials. Had I done something wrong? What did I do to deserve this? Anger quickly turned to sadness and depression. I went from being happy and healthy to taking 26 pills every day just to function. I had no energy, was in chronic pain, lost all my hair, gained 30 pounds of steroid weight, and felt worthless. All the while, my husband was in the beginning stages of a job transition and I was the sole provider of income for our family. Working as a business professional, I routinely pass out business cards with a picture of me looking healthy; nothing like the present. It was a daily reminder of my illness and the season I was in. Ultimately, I had decided that I was not going to let the enemy win and that with prayer, family, and friends; I would overcome whatever mountain I faced.
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:2-4 (NIV)
People often say “I don’t know how you do it” or “you are so strong”. The truth is, personally I am not, but God is for me. He gives me just enough strength each and every day to do what is needed to push through. One of my all-time favorite scriptures and something I have lived by for years and years is Matthew 6:34 (NIV): “Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Jesus suffering on earth was FAR worse than anything I have or will experience. If he could do that for me, then the least I can do is continue to push through and live with purpose.
Each and every day we wake up is a gift from God. We get to choose what kind of heart and attitude we have about our circumstances. When going through a tough time, it is almost as if we are under a microscope for all those around us. People are watching and waiting to see how you respond. By choosing joy in the tough times, you become a light. You open up an opportunity to share where you get that joy from and why. For that reason, each morning I choose joy and will continue to give God the glory.
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13 (NIV)