In Strength There is Purpose

Ly embraces life's hurdles, showing strength and resilience through the darkest of moments.

Lysander Reese Jr.

Is strength is a characteristic we only realize when we go through tough encounters? Perhaps it’s just something we overlook within ourselves. For some of us, we have our daily encounters with trials and tribulations, while others don't experience them so often. When something doesn't happen so frequently it's easy to forget the lessons learned from that particular experience. Sometimes it takes just one event or episode for someone to remember the amount of determination and perseverance it takes to rise above. Others, it can take numerous encounters. As with many things in life, it’s a challenge. A challenge to allow yourself to be open. To receive heartache and criticism, and to face life altering decisions in which are so vital to self evolvement.

At the age of nine months old, I was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis. A terminal illness that affects the lungs and digestive organs with sticky mucus that leads to life jeopardizing infections. Of course at this age I couldn't even say these words. It was something that my parents were gonna have to introduce me to and do their best to make sure that I didn’t let it hold me back in life. So at the moment of my diagnosis, I became in tune with my own strength without a clue in the world. As you can suspect, this disease is very demanding. It consumes everything you do, it predicts the amount of time you have in the day, determines how productive you are, and there is no manual for when something goes wrong. You truly have to find the appreciation for life in each breath you take.

This is an exact example of how easy it is to overlook your strength. I never knew how strong I had to be, because living with this disease was all I’ve ever known. I am an honest believer that there is nothing that is put upon you that’s not meant for you to overcome. Inside the CF community there is great support amongst each other, and this helps tremendously with coping with such an illness. There are many different mutations that make up individuals with CF. This leads to a broad spectrum of different symptoms and very unique stories. Chances are there is someone going through exactly what you're going through, and knowing that means the world during the tough times.

Lysander Reese Jr._2

The struggle with Cystic Fibrosis, believe it or not, was not the toughest battle I had to face in my life. Growing up with this disease was extremely tough as a teenager. My mother was my caretaker. She made sure to religiously schedule my doctor appointments, made sure I had all my nutrients, and made sure that I never went without my meds. She even made sure that I rode on the bus for special needs in school so that I wouldn’t get trampled on. Of course at the time I didn't understand the reasoning but later in life I saw the beauty in her wanting to protect me.

The year was 1997, I was 13 years old when her cancer came back out of remission. I could no longer protect her as she did me for so many years. The cancer came back aggressively and she was told she would have only months to live. My mother was such a fighter. She would go and get her chemotherapy treatments on her lunch break, put on her little stylish wig, and go right back to work for the remainder of her shift cleaning hospital rooms. All of her co-workers loved “Gabby.” That was short for Gabrielle. I believe that is where I inherited my strength from.

On March 5th, 1998, my mother lost her battle with ovarian cancer. I was 14 years old and my sister was 19 at the time. Our father lived with us but was heavily into drugs before my mother’s death and fell even deeper into them afterwards. I was forced to go and live with my eldest sister. During this point in my life, I had to teach myself a lot of things to fend for myself. Shamingly, I put my disease on the back burner due to depression and denial. I had my fair share of drug abuse and attempted suicides as a result. Losing my mother at that age who did everything for me, was just too much to handle. Amazingly, I didn’t lose too much lung function over those years. Today I'm 33 years old and I still have my own lungs. My lung function baseline is in the mid 50’s. Im currently in college for my bachelors in music production.

I close with this, there is some strength that you don't know lies within you, that you might not think you have because you simply overlook your own capabilities. There is also the strength that  exposes itself under the most difficult of circumstances that makes you aware of your purpose on this earth. We all have the courage to fight and carry on - it's how we evolve. It just depends on whether or not you remember the lessons learned from yesterday’s sorrows, so that today, you have the knowledge of tomorrow’s triumphs.