My doctor says that I am dying. Every time that I see
her, she tells me this fact in a new way. “The multiple
sclerosis is killing you; You will not live a long life;
your life will be shorter than most; the MS is causing your brain
to resemble Swiss cheese; and you’re lucky to know what you
are dying from, most people don’t.”
She is a great doctor, and I truly believe that she is just trying
to help me when she says these things. Maybe she thinks that I
am in denial about my disease. I’m not. I just don’t think that anyone
can predict how long someone will live. What am I supposed
to do? Just sit in a chair, watch television, and wait to die? All of
us will die eventually. A perfectly healthy person can be walking
along and be hit by a bus, while another person—to the surprise
of his or her doctors—can live decades with cancer. The truth
is, only God knows how long that I will live. I just don’t think
that He is finished with me yet and that is why I am still here.
And the fact is that I have already died before this time. I had
a Near-Death Experience (NDE) when I was just nine, and this
experience was written about in Guideposts’ Mysterious Ways
magazine. It is also told again in this book.
The devotions in this book were given to me by God to help
individuals when they are struggling to cope with a chronic illness
or a disease. This is the only reason for this book to exist,
and it was not written to make a ton of money. If my doctor is
right with her diagnosis, I won’t need money where I’m going.
Money is not important to God. Why spend my final days on
something that has little meaning? If God can use this sick, broken
person to make a difference in the world, then that is everything
to me, and my life has some purpose.
In this book, you will hear me repeat the same mantra:
“Surround yourself with good people.” There are many good
people in this world. Find them and foster those friendships.
We are here to help and support each other. You are not alone.
Search for the good people out there—they do exist! If you feel
alone, look around you and they will actually come running. God
uses his children to help others again and again and again.
I also state throughout the book that maybe you are an “angelin-
training.” Did you ever realize this? Maybe angels are developing
from ordinary people who have gone through extraordinary
circumstances, both good and terrible. Right now, you feel sick
and discouraged. But perhaps God will use this to help you grow
and develop into the person that He needs for you to be. How
about this idea? Wouldn’t that be incredible?
When I was a child, my grandfather used to tell me, “There
are only two things that you have to do in life—die and pay taxes!”
Well, he was wrong. There is one more thing, and that is to
change. Our lives are constantly changing and I know mine certainly
did in December 1995 when I developed multiple sclerosis.
Before that time, I was young; I was healthy; I was superwoman!
Or so I thought. I worked long hours as a public relations
executive for a Fortune 100 company in Atlanta. I was married
with one child and another on the way. I also was completing my
second master’s degree in communications. I worked eight hours
and then went to class at night. I was young! I was invincible!
Before I developed MS, I considered myself a spiritual person.
I went to church on a regular basis. And most days, if I remembered,
I prayed before bedtime. But, honestly, God was not
a large part of my life. I knew He was there, but I was too busy
with work, children, and school to take much notice.
It is interesting how an illness can change you. For some
people, a chronic illness or disease can be devastating and more
than they can handle. I realized just how unbearable illness can
be while I was reading an Associated Press article about Dr.
Kevorkian, or Dr. Death. According to the article, twenty of the
ninety-three people whose “suicides” he engineered had multiple
sclerosis (MS)! Although multiple sclerosis can be a dreadful
disease, most MS sufferers don’t die from it. As I read the article,
I was immediately struck by the power illness has to devastate
people’s lives. These gentle souls were so fatigued and tired of
dealing with the MS every day, they no longer wanted to live—
they wanted out.
I truly believe that people can sometimes have too much tragedy
in their lives. Just like Dr. Kevorkian’s patients, many of us
can and do have more than we can bear. Life can be very difficult.
Illness or disease greatly adds to that burden, and we can
feel that we are broken. In reality, it might even feel worse than
being broken. It can sometimes feel like our lives have been shattered.
How do you begin to heal from your disease if you are in
So You Have a Disease: Devotions and Stories To Restore Hope is
intended to help bring God’s hope and reassurance to individuals
who feel like they are broken from illness. If you have been diagnosed
with a disease, it will change your life. If I told you differently,
I would not be telling the truth. Sometimes a disease can
start suddenly, or sometimes you will slowly realize that something
I hope and pray that this book is helpful to you. I would like to
begin with a Gaelic blessing that is one of my mother’s favorite
prayers. Perhaps you have heard it before. Even though you and I
might not ever meet, we are related. We are brothers and sisters.
Not only because we all are suffering from a disease, but because
we are children of God.
May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
the rains fall soft upon your fields
and until we meet again,
may God hold you in the palm of His hand.