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Making the Choice to Overcome Adversity

Posted Mar 10 2009 3:04pm

I can often be heard saying either here on this blog or in regular conversations, that I believe HOW a person overcomes adversity in her life will demonstrate her true moral character.   I read stories or witness examples of adults who in their younger years faced abuse or mistreatment by family members or faced other major life crises at a time when they should only be living life as a child. Unfortunately, some will go on to blame their past experiences for their future poor choices and decisions.   However, many times these people go on to do amazing things with their lives – challenging the adversity that presented itself, most often at no fault of their own.   

In the past weeks I’ve come across two such stories, worthy of sharing.

The first is the story of Cory Friedman, who as a child was diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome, OCD and anxiety issues.   One morning when he was almost five years old, Cory Friedman woke up with the uncontrollable urge to shake his head. From that day forward his life became an agony of irrepressible tics and involuntary utterances. Cory embarked on a fifteen-year odyssey of medication upon medication, treatment upon treatment–a constantly changing regimen that left him and his family feeling like guinea pigs in an out-of-control experiment. It soon became unclear which tics were symptoms of his condition and which were side effects of the countless combinations of drugs. The only certainty was that it kept getting worse. Simply put: Cory Friedman’s life was a living hell. Subjected to debilitating treatments and continuous ridicule, Cory became devastatingly aware of how he appeared to others. With the love of his family and the support of a few steadfast teachers and medical professionals, he fought for his very life, and you will cheer his amazing successes. Cory’s story was published by his father, along with novelist James Patterson in the book: Against Medical Advice.  It’s one of those books you can read, start to finish, in just a few hours on a Sunday afternoon.   I’d highly recommend it!

My second dose of inspiration came while researching possible speakers for upcoming events on my campus.    Liz Murraywas born in the Bronx, New York, to poor, drug-addicted, HIV-infected parents. She became homeless just after she turned 15, when her mother died of AIDS, and her father moved to a homeless shelter. Murray’s life turned around when she began attending the Humanities Preparatory Academy in Chelsea, Manhattan. Though she started high school later than most students, and remained without a stable home while supporting herself and her sister, Murray graduated in only two years. She was awarded a New York Times scholarship for needy students and accepted into Harvard University, matriculating in the fall semester of 2000. She left Harvard in 2003 to care for her sick father; she resumed her education at Columbia University to be closer to him. In 2006 her father died of AIDS [1]. As of May 2008, she is back at Harvard working towards her degree [1] and plans to graduate in December 2008 [2] (Wikipedia).   What is amazing to me is that Liz made the CHOICE to do something special with her life and instead of blaming her past for her struggles; she continues to CHOOSE to head down the right path.

Neither of these folks suffer from M.S., but nonetheless, they can easily serve as gentle reminders to those of us who face our own adverse struggles daily – and as we CHOOSE how we want to handle them along the way.




Posted in Other Inspirations Tagged: M.S., Multiple sclerosis
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