How My Sister’s Invisible Illness Created My Personal Mission To Make The Invisible Seen

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My sister Stephanie and I were born 5 years apart from one another. I was born with Hemiplegia Spastic Cerebral Palsy, so our relationship as sisters has always been unique. Stephanie grew up as self-sufficient and extremely stubborn. She always knew better than anyone one else. She had the makings of a great defense attorney.

But alas, her love for taking things apart and “inventions” won out and she would eventually begin to spread her wings in the big apple. Steph and her future were all hers for the taking. I have had the awesome experience as her big sister watching Steph overcome, and deal with, whatever was thrown her way with very subtle and with a quiet confidence while remaining humble.

Even when she was diagnosed as a Type 1 diabetic at the age of 14, Steph handled it as if it was an ordinary day in her life. My sister is no stranger to health issues, and nothing ever seemed to phase or keep her down for long.

That all changed 7 years ago.

From the time Steph was 11 years old she had several different kinds of headaches and was always told a variety of things. But when she was 21 and in school, she noticed a drastic change in them. And over and over again she was told, “It’s just stress, your a student with a full plate. Take some Motrin.”

My sister never took that as an answer and followed her intuition. After taking it upon herself my sister found a local neurologist who specialized in two medical conditions—Cerebral Palsy and cluster headaches. Upon my sister’s description of the pain she was and still is experiencing to this day she was diagnosed as not only as a chronic migraine suffer, but she was also diagnosed as a chronic cluster headache sufferer. If you do a simple YouTube or Google search you will find that this condition is not only life-changing for the person who has this disease, but it is not a common conversation among the medical field and very few in the medical profession have knowledge of this disease.

And those that have recognized as a serious condition have dubbed it the world’s most painful condition.

But unfortunately, like most invisible and chronic illnesses, it’s not taken seriously or even something that seems to exist at all. As Steph’s big sister I became increasingly frustrated by the lack of not only help my sister desperately needed but also the lack of compassion and empathy. It was an eye opener for me and my family. So, I took it upon myself to turn this mess into a message no one could simply just ignore or dismiss. And I took it upon myself to create a place where we could highlight, educate, acknowledge, and support those who are far too easily judged rather accepted.

And on July 30, 2016, I created the blog, The Abler. And in November of 2016, I created the Facebook Group The Official Facebook Group For The Abler Blog.

In just a little over a year, The Abler has covered 13 topics, completed 9 interviews, and has a growing social media presence. With the Facebook group that has over 300 members, The Abler can also be found on Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, and Facebook. If you asked me today what my sister’s chronic/invisible illness has taught me I’d say this, that no one should be thought of as less than or dismissed because you do not evident proof that something exists. Everyone should use their voice to empower and lift one another. If education is power why don’t we as a society count personal knowledge and experience into that equation? And that is one of the goals that I hope I can continue to thrive for with The Abler, and it’s growing community.

I aim to raise people’s radars, educate, and help us learn from one another as well as provide a safe and non-judgemental place where people can find kindness, compassion, and caring. Because, my motto for not only The Abler, but life in general is, “The more you know, the more you grow.” And watching something beautiful grow from something as painful as watching someone you love more than life itself suffer so much is not only sanity-saving but empowering.

And, that I believe is how anyone can overcome whatever monster you face in life. Never bow down, instead go to toe with it, find, fight, and keep your power. TC mark

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