Overcoming sicknesses/disabilities

Shaila D

Just Keep Swimming

Everybody loves to be in control, especially when it comes to what happens to them. In some cases, however, people cannot always do that. Sometimes you have absolutely no control, in a certain aspect of life. This can become a problem for many. Talia Joy, would be very familiar with this feeling.


She is a thirteen year old girl, from Florida. When Talia was just seven years old, she began experiencing abdominal pain and fevers. This pain progressively got worse. Sooner or later, an x-ray proved that Talia had developed Neuroblastoma, a rare form of cancer. After a year of fighting, Talia was "declared cancer free." The triumph was well earned. That did not last for long though, as another adversity slapped her in the face. Talia relapsed, with the same form of cancer and Preleukemia added on. At this point in her life, Talia, as well as doctors, family, and friends knew that she did not have much time left. There were no drugs, to treat both cancers at the same time. Talia had no control, of what was occurring to her body. Yet, with only months left to live, she handled the situation beautifully. How you may ask?



Talia realized, that the cancer was taking over her body. She practically spent months on end, in a hospital room. This brave girl managed to distract herself, from all the struggles. Although she was not in control of her body, Talia decided to be in management of her mindset. Distracting herself with the things and people she loved was the perfect escape from the problem. The problem that did not allow her to decide if she was going to wake up the next day. One way she coped, was by introducing herself to the world of makeup. It helped her feel relaxed, and in power. Before she knew it, Talia began posting makeup videos on YouTube. Her channel is "TaliaJoy18," which you can still access today. She also passed time, by living each day to it's fullest. Talia woke up smiling everyday, because she was unsure if it would be her last. Despite what she was going through, practically being told that she was going to die Talia had an aspiration, to make others smile. She longed to inspire others with her stories, and make a difference in their lives. She posted many videos, encouraging others to persevere through anything and everything. Doing this and so much more, made Talia feel brave. Although she needed help herself, she chose to assist others.


Even during her last days, she was combative. Talia was willing to fight, knowing the odds. Throughout her whole journey, she kept telling herself to "Just Keep Swimming." She got the quote from Finding Nemo, and never let it go. Talia Joy Castellano passed away on June 16th, 2013 at 11:22am. To this day, she is remembered as a beautiful warrior who persevered through it all. Talia overcame her sickness, by smiling because of it. The way most look at it, she was not weak when she lost to the battle. Yet she was just strong enough to let go, of the pain.

The First Steps To Recovery

Unfortunate things happen to all of us, some more than others. Today, being diagnosed with cancer, or another disease can be traumatizing. Learning news about diagnosis can take a toll on you, and your mindset. If you, or a loved one is suffering from a disease, the key is staying positive. Being happy can encourage your body and mind to persevere through a tough battle.


How To stay Positive, With a Disease:

Step 1: Look at each day as a new one. Everyone has good and bad days. However, every morning you must wake up and be open to new possibilities. Don't start your day with the broken pieces of yesterday. Each day you wake up, is the start of the rest of your life.


Step 2: Tell yourself that it could be worse. Sure, you may feel that things are about as bad as they can be. Remind yourself constantly, that someone else has it worse. In reality, there is no worst situation. Things can always decline or escalate. So take what you can get, and make the best of it.


Step 3: Find motivation. Whether from yourself, or someone else, motivation is so important. Without it, it can be challenging to keep going, You may want to yield, if you see no point in fighting. A great role model, would be thirteen year old Talia Joy (see other article for more into). She fought cancer for many years and motivated herself to never stop doing so.


Step 4: Be thankful for what you have. Although you may be sick, there is so much more that you do have. Be grateful everyday that you open your eyes. That, is a gift on it's own. Also, if you never focus on what you have, you will always focus on what you do not. This can cause you to get more stressed out, which you don't need. Triumphs will come, just wait.


Step 5: Choose to be happy. Say that you have cancer, and your doctor told you to undergo an extra round of chemotherapy. You could take this news two ways. Get angry, because you thought you were getting better after your needed rounds. Or, you could complete it, and be cheerful that with it you will be much healthier than before.


Step 6: Don't underestimate yourself. Remember that the strongest people face the biggest challenges. If you choose to venture off, it is because you know you can survive it. Have faith in yourself, and your body, that you can get past the vicious fight. Don't be afraid to hold on for another day, even if you are hanging on by a thread. If you believe, you can totally achieve.


To sum it all up, diseases are awful. But they allow us as humans to grow, into stronger, more beautiful people. So embrace it, live life, and fight for a better tomorrow. You can, and so you will do.

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No Sight, No Hearing, No Problem

Imagine living a life with many privileges. Everything about your body works perfectly, and you aren't worried about that changing. Suddenly, you become ill and as a result lose your sight and hearing. Your life soon becomes full of the quiet and darkness. This occurred to Helen Keller, and changed her life forever. Although it held her back from success at first, Helen used this adversity as motivation. Motivation towards learning and communicating, even though it seemed nearly impossible. If it weren't for becoming ill in the first place, she would have never learned how to work hard, and be thankful.


Helen Keller was not always blind and deaf. In fact, in 1892, when she was about 18 months old she contracted an illness. It was entitled "Brain Fever" at the time, and soon affected 2/5 of her senses. When the lights and noise went out, Helen was not prepared. She became very frustrated, and could not understand why she lost what she once had. Often times, Helen had violent tantrums growing up. Being that her parents did not know how to help her, her mom contacted Anne Sullivan. In hopes that she could teach their daughter how to survive, being disabled. Anne began teaching Helen with finger spelling. Helen rarely cooperated, which caused Anne to isolate her from the rest of her family. She predicted that the move would encourage concentration. Regardless, Helen struggled day in and day out. However, one night she surprisingly learned the word water, while feeling it for herself. This lead to Helen learning 30 words that night. Soon, she became more and more dedicated. Helen attended school for the deaf, to develop speech. Much against the predictions of others, she thrived and soon attended college. At this point in her life she began to meet many famous and inspirational people.


At the tip of her adult life, Keller because an activist and inspiration for many. She wanted to use her story, to prove that no challenge lasts forever. Helen was so devoted to encouraging, that she wrote an autobiography using brail. She went through all that trouble just for others. Helen even was the first American, blind and deaf to graduate from college. All in all, her life was far from easy. However, if it weren't for contracting those disabilities, she would have never accomplished what she did. Today, she is remembered as a person who proved those who doubted her wrong. And for that, she deserves to be commemorated for the bravery, and perseverance, put into everything.

A Brave Heart

Bullying is part of life, and sadly we all have to go through it. But when you are being bullied based on something you cannot change, that is a shame. Lizzie Velasquez went through something just like this. Constantly, she was picked on, because of her differences.


Who is Lizzie Velasquez?

Lizzie Velasquez is a 26 year old from Austin, Texas. She suffers from a rare syndrome, which prevents her from gaining weight no matter how much she eats. Lizzie has zero percent body fat, and has never weighed more that 64 pounds. As a result of this, her physical appearances differ, but she is just as beautiful. There has not been much knowledge of her diagnosis, considering the fact that only two other people in the world, are known to have it. From a young age, doctors told Lizzie's parents to never expect anything out of her. They didn't listen, and this choice shaped her into who she is today.


How was Lizzie bullied?

Lizzie first experienced bullying, on the first day of kindergarten. Although it was mild, it began to make her feel isolated from other children. At the time, she was unaware of her different appearances. Lizzie walked up to another girl her age, and introduced herself. Suddenly, the girl looked up at her, horrified, and ran away. This was the first incident of many to come. Lizzie was confused, and wanted to know why everyone hated her.

The bullying never really stopped for her. When Lizzie was 17 years old, she was browsing YouTube, unaware of what was about to happen. A surprising video popped up, featuring a very familiar face. So she clicked on it, curious, only to find a video labeling her "The World's Ugliest Woman." Scared to do so, Lizzie glanced at the number of views, which happened to be over 4 million. Comments ranged from "why would her parents keep her," to "looking at that thing makes me blind." She cried for many nights, not knowing what to do. Lizzie could not change her body, no matter how hard she tried.


How Did She Handle It?

Lizzie soon realized that she was born with the syndrome for a reason. She did not want to let a petty video get to her. So she took the brave choice to grow from her experiences than run from them. In fact, Lizzie once stated, "If I ever see that person, who made the video, I would give them the biggest hug in the world. And tell them, thank you for bringing the best thing that's ever happened in my life. That video changed everything, and it has given me the platform to be myself. Given the circumstances, and her past Lizzie looked forward to sharing her stories, hoping to help others. Today, she is an anti-bullying activist, as well as a very successful inspirational speaker. Her two Ted-talks combined, have over 12 million views. Eloquent is her middle name. She also creates weekly videos on YouTube, showing people that she is not afraid to show her true self on there anymore. To sum it all up, Lizzie Velasquez is an inspirational person inside and out. She did not let her appearances define her, which is rare to find people doing nowadays.

Below is 1 of 2 of her ted talks.

How Do YOU Define Yourself Lizzie Velasquez at TEDxAustinWomen

How Far The Wheels Brought Them

Most people may think, that people in wheelchairs are incapable. That they are not normal, and shouldn't be treated with respect. However, in these situations are truly inspiring, to us all. Just because you may be disabled, it does not mean that you can't achieve things.For example, take the book "Out Of My Mind," by Sharon Draper. The main character, Melody Brooks has cerebral palsy. Her body is stiff, and she cannot speak. For these reasons, Melody is not around normal children, and has to treated with special care. Another individual, who dealt with bad circumstances would be American president Franklin Roosevelt. During his term, he developed polio, which partially paralyzed his body.


These two people, fictional and real, both are similar in many ways. First of all, when both of them were diagnosed with their conditions, others around them instantly viewed them differently. The two lost respect, that everyone else who was "normal" seemed to have. People believed that they were dumb, and underestimated them to the max. The two are also alike, because both were in the need of wheelchairs. Walking was no option. They faltered throughout life, many many times. Despite all the opposition they faced, Melody and Franklin both continued to do what was needed, although it was no easy task. Ambitions were chased after, all the time. Sure, they may have had to work harder to do easy things, but that only made them stronger. Others were constantly discouraging them.


Although the two are alike, they are very much different. To start off, Melody was born with her condition. This caused her to be isolated from others most of her life. On the other hand, Franklin developed Polio later, which caused him to lose respect later on. He was a powerful politician, but becoming ill made people despise him. Many wanted to re-elect someone else, but he adhered to his commitment. Also, Franklin could do much more than Melody. Talking was not at all suitable for her. However, that did not stop Melody from trying every day to speak like everyone else.


All in all, both masses persevered. They could not change their bodies, so they worked past them and ventured off. Besides the horrid reactions from others, they were able to get out of bed everyday, and face their challenge, the world. For that, Melody Brooks and Franklin Roosevelt deserve a round of applause. These stories prove that wheels can take you very far. Never underestimate someone, because you will be wrong.