This I Believe

Nichole - Clarkston, Michigan
Entered on November 18, 2006
Age Group: 30 - 50
Themes: family, illness

I believe in stepping down off the soapbox. Many people suffer from countless life wrenching evils, and are not parading around with a step stool of pity waiting to preach their anguish. No, people should not suffer in silence; just tone it down a bit. Why do particular aliments, sicknesses, or diseases get more recognition than others? It is ridiculous how we have commercialized and advertised them to the point that it is comparable to beating a dead horse. It started with a sticker on the back of a mini van, or a subtle pin on a blouse. Now it is on weeknight “special” shows, billboards, and even my soup cans.

What makes one condition deserve more national attention, and funding than others? Because it infects women? Or is it because it could infect young women? Is it because it can kill someone’s mother, aunt, or sister? It is hard to understand what makes specific diseases rise above others. People, including women, succumb to different diseases and cancers everyday. They all need to be brought to awareness.

My mother struggles just to get out of bed, and shuffle down the hallway. The house fills with her moans in the middle of the night as she merely attempts to roll over. She avoids the kitchen first thing in the morning. She knows that the cold floor could cause cramping in her feet, which would destroy any possible chance of walking at half the normal pace for the rest of the day. Her body becomes numb, and as only she can describe, she feels the sensations of pins and needles all over. Her hands excruciatingly curl inward making it hard for her to do normal everyday things. Her knees swell and throb as she rubs them, hoping for a good day, and knowing that those days are getting few and far between.

Her hair is a mess because she cannot reach her arms up that high or even take hold of a brush. Her jeans are too big because she’s unable to button them let alone pull them up. Her tennis shoes are always pre-tied and over-sized so that she can slip them on easily. The doctors say the only medication that will help her to be mobile will inadvertently end her life. They attempt to take her off of them at every monthly visit, but she continues to take the medications without any regard to the doctor’s warnings. She would rather live a shorter, semi-fulfilling life, than live an extra ten or fifteen years curled up in a corner like a dying animal. My mother is only 57 years old, and has rheumatoid arthritis.

Many men, women, and children suffer in silence, or amongst their families everyday, but they do not have icons, or celebrity endorsed chanting in the background. They do not have 3-day walks to support their cause. They are not granted two months out of the year in hopes of bringing awareness to the general public. They do not have world-renowned speakers, or buildings and streets named after them just for being survivors and making it through the day. It would also be nice to have a Google search that produced over 63 million websites of support and research. Nonetheless, for now they do not.

I believe its time to come down off the soapbox, if only for a moment and give a different voice a chance to be heard. They need a chance to be embraced by the rest of the world. They should be giving a chance to proudly boast about their friends, and family that have stood by their sides. A chance to be cheered for when they may be winning their own personal battle with a different kind of demon.