Yvonne Shortt has had Retinitis pigmentosa (RP) all her life, but was not diagnosed until she was in her 30s. The condition is hereditary. Since no one in her family had it, she simply adapted to her vision differences, including night blindness as a child. She had no idea that anything was really wrong until she started to experience blind spots and symptoms of vision loss in her 30s, and was diagnosed with RP. She got through it by processing it over time, sharing it with colleagues, with the support of her family, and by mutual care-giving. She learned how adaptable and resilient she is as a visually impaired person, and recommends that newly diagnosed people reach out to RP support groups on Facebook, which were very helpful to her. She acknowledges how scary it is to lose your vision and encourages anyone with RP to know that they are not alone, and they will get through it.
Donald Antrim, author of One Friday in April: A Story of Suicide and Survival, describes growing through suicidal illness by going to the hospital and staying. When nothing else worked, and after a call from the author David Foster Wallace, he consented to being treated with ECT (Electroconvulsive therapy), which he says was a miracle cure. He learned to have a high regard for doctors and hospitals, that we don’t do anything alone, and the value of patience — it took a long time to get better. His advice is to try not to be afraid of the hospital, to seek treatment if you need it, and rely on your friends and family.
Alexandra Capellini was diagnosed with osteosarcoma (bone cancer) when she was 7 and had her right leg amputated above-the-knee. She describes growing through it with the help of her family, her team at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, and the other kids in the hospital. She learned about the power of selflessness and resilience through the experience. Her advice to others is to lean on those around you, and trust your support system. Also, be flexible with yourself and know that every day is a chance to reset how you’re thinking. She is presently a medical student studying to treat children with cancer.
Grow Through It: Health Issues & Illness and Loss & Grief
Joelle Wright-Terry, retired Detroit police officer and hospice chaplain, tells her story of surviving COVID and becoming a COVID widow. She grew through it by the grace of God. She learned how to trust in God, survive, and take over her husband’s business. She encourages everyone to take everyday as it comes and tell your loved ones you love them.