This I Believe

Sarah - Bismarck, North Dakota
Entered on February 3, 2008
Age Group: Under 18

Character is Built through Adversity

I believe that character is built through adversity. I am a three-sport athlete and an avid sports fan. Anything to do with running, jumping, or throwing I’m there. Basketball is my absolute love, though. My parents, uncles, aunts, brothers, sisters, and grandparents all played basketball.

It’s something that’s grown with me over the years; it’s a familiar face that comforts me. My dream has always been to play college basketball at the highest level I can. However, for a short time, I thought that dream would never come true.

When I was nine years old I was diagnosed with Lupus. Lupus is an autoimmune disorder that affects the connective tissue in the joints and around the organs. Most of the time, because of the medicine I take, it’s in remission but if I experience a flare it could affect my skin, nervous system, lungs, kidneys, and heart. Right now I have a permanent rash running down the side of my left arm. Flares can be caused by many different things, like stress, lack of sleep, too much exposure to the sun or it can just show up. The intensity of running cross country and track, and playing basketball could ruin my joints by the time I’m twenty-five. But seeing other people live the dream I’ve always wanted, I realized that I could never give it up. Yes, that meant I’d have to experience pain; I have. I’d have to work much harder than the average person to stay healthy and I’d have to sacrifice many things like eating junk food, and staying up late. I can’t stay in the sun too long because it could cause a flare. I try to stay away from people who are sick because a 24-hour flu could knock me out for a couple weeks. My mom even carries a can of Lysol in her purse; I think she’s a little overprotective. Also, from all the running I did, my digestive system couldn’t handle dairy products anymore.

But I realize that without the loss of these smaller entities I wouldn’t be part of state championship track and cross country teams. I would never have been a two-year starter for the varsity basketball team, right by my sister. I would have never traveled across the Mid-west playing basketball in the summers so coaches could watch me. My dream of competing in college is not so far out of reach. Lupus gave me the opportunity to demonstrate perseverance, integrity, and courage. It might have made me better than I would have been if I were healthy. I don’t think Lupus defines me or other people’s problems define them. I think it’s how I react to my problems that makes me the person I am today.