It’s with great pleasure that I welcome Amber Newman of A Creative Newmie to the blog today. As she shares her heartfelt story below, I have no doubt that you will admire her strength, just as I do. Without further ado, here is Amber.
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First of all, I’m overjoyed to be a guest blogger for When Women Inspire. I find great satisfaction in reading motivational stories that make me strive to be a better individual, than I was the day before. Thank you Christy, for this opportunity to share my journey.
I recently turned twenty-six years old. Celebrating my birthdays each year are major accomplishments for me. Why? When I was only seven months old, I was diagnosed with a life threatening, progressive, lung disease called cystic fibrosis. By the time I reached my early teen years I had become extremely ill, dependent on oxygen, and in desperate need of a life-saving double lung transplant.
Living with a chronic illness isn’t easy, but somehow, I mange to do it every single day of my life. This small excerpt of my life is all about faith, hope and love.
I did not live the life of a normal thirteen-year-old girl. I could no longer attend school, because of my lack of energy, the several medications I had to take, just to stay alive, and my oxygen tank would run out, before classes were over for the day. I missed out on sleepovers, shopping trips to the mall, and making new friends. I used to be able to perform without any effort, now took all the strength I had. I couldn’t enjoy the simplest things, such as, a moment of laughter, without physically getting sick from laughing too hard. I even needed assistance with washing my hair. I couldn’t walk across a small room, without gasping for air. I could only go as far as my oxygen tubing would let me.
I had always been passionate about dancing and music. I danced until I couldn’t dance; I listened to music until I could no longer hear the sound because of hearing loss. (Due to a side effect of ototoxic medication) I was living in the hospital a couple times a year, for weeks at a time. I not only couldn’t breathe, but I also suffered from diabetes, weight loss, and eventually being deaf. It felt like a lifetime of suffering. Would it be ending soon? I prayed.
So, what kept me going? I had the love and support of my family and friends, as well as, my faith, and a positive attitude. I wrote in a journal to help me process my emotions and connected with others online who were living with the same deadly disease. I used my creative talents to forget about the pain, at least for a little while. Not once, did I stop and think, why me? Well, why not me? God chooses His strongest soldiers for the biggest battles and there was a big one coming.
My prayers were answered on March 13, 2007 when I was just fifteen years old. I received the ultimate gift of life from a very generous family, of a girl around the same age as me. Because of the most difficult decision-making choice made by my donor, I’ve been thriving through life ever since. I finally danced at my junior and senior proms, I can hear again thanks to cochlear implants, graduated high school, attended summer concerts with my closest friends, witnessed my sister proudly walking for her college diploma, had the honor of meeting my favorite author, Jodi Picoult, and the greatest blessing of all, I found my one true love. We married during a dreamy, bright, orange sunset on Honeymoon Island beach in Dunedin, Florida. My husband has all the qualities I desired in a lifelong partner. He’s kind, patient, humorous, laid-back, and makes me strive to be a better woman and wife. He’s my knight in shining armor. It seemed like a happy ending, or so I thought.
Unfortunately, I fell into a deep depression the past couple of years. I cried a few times a week, I slept; I used excuse after excuse for my failures, and often fought with my husband. I was overwhelmed with the pressure to be perfect. I didn’t survive the past decade only to live without purpose. I had to prove I deserve to be here, and I thought my time was limited, simply because the average survival rate for a double lung transplant recipient is five years. I not only passed the average mortality rate, but I doubled it this year when I celebrated ten years breathing free!
I stepped out of my unhappy life, after attending church for the first time, last November. I had an abundance of renewed hope. I discovered myself. I realized my dreams had never changed. I am an artist and a writer. With the encouragement from my ladies bible study group, I began arts and crafts projects and set up a blog. I’m focused and more determined than ever. I have a reason to smile again. The one who falls and gets back up is much stronger than the one who never fell.
Of course, there isn’t sunshine everyday of my life, but when I feel the darkness peeking through, I pray and believe in the better days ahead.
Whatever daily struggles you may be currently facing, do it with a smile. You deserve more credit than you give yourself. Remember, a negative mind will never give you a positive life. Be the girl who decided to go for it.
Much love and blessings.
About Amber Newman
Amber currently lives in Cincinnati, Ohio with her husband of two years. She enjoys reading with a cup a tea, shopping, blogging, and watching her favorite TV shows. You can read more of her story on her website, A Creative Newmie. She features craft projects, as well as, monthly book reviews, and inspirational posts in between.