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“You are not your illness”: These words gave me the strength not to kill myself

Aleteia - published on 10/10/19

Friendship and support gave hope after a difficult diagnosis

It was 1980. One day, Tony woke up seeing double. He began to lose sensation in his left hand, then his arm, and then his leg.

After seven years, he was finally diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. An abyss opened up in front of him. He fell into depression, and twice he was on the point of committing suicide.

Today, he tells us what helped him. He says, “I’m not the miracle; it’s everyone around me;” those who spoke to him words of hope, of friendship, of encouragement; those who told him how they’d survived dramatic situations.

A Vietnam veteran told him, “Anyone who would judge you as a person based upon the fact that you get around in a walker is not a good judge of personality. You are still a person. You are still a human being.” At that moment, Tony rediscovered his value, the fact that his dignity didn’t depend on being able to walk: “I said to myself, ‘I’m still a husband, I’m still a father, I still have friends.’”

His life was reborn. He made peace with God and with other people, and realized that he was in the place where God wanted him. He understood that it was precisely in his condition that he could help many people to rediscover hope, “paying it forward.”

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