Friday, November 4, 2011

Heroic Women

Fictional heroine, Audra Tanner, is portrayed in my novels as a strong, educated and empowered woman that, through circumstances that lecherously attached themselves to her life, becomes a warrior seeking justice.  While this character's life makes for good fiction, she is just a conglomeration of words strung together in a book.


There are multitudes of women out there in the real world that fight every single day to just wake up in the morning.  Ones that have suffered tragic events in their lives, ranging from survivors of sexual and physical abuse to those incredible women that valiantly "hold the fort down" while their spouses serve bravely in the military, to those who live inside bodies that seem, through no fault of their own, to rebel against them.  

Today, I would like to take a moment and pay tribute to two such women that I personally know and have the utmost respect and love for, as they face their biggest battles.  Both women could not be more of polar opposites in terms of their backgrounds, lifestyles, ages and diseases, yet they both are united by the bonds of fighting their own bodies for survival.  

The first, a 40+ year old mother of two and a lawyer that champions the cause for justice always being served, full of laughter and love for all those she knows, now battling for the FOURTH time, cancer.  

Yes, I said fourth time.  

Even during the horrific side effects of chemo, she still manages to keep the most positive attitude as she exudes this Warrior mode from every pore, standing strong as she looks this demonic thing that cowardly resides inside her and screams, "Bring it!"  

Her unyielding determination to rage against the ugly monster seems to stem from the smoldering fire that tends to lay dormant in the very core of human existence in all of us, silently waiting until necessary to stoke: our need for survival. Additional fuel is added from her maternal instincts to protect her children from any sort of harm or pain, even if that means waging war against herself.  And the match that sets her on fire, blazing for all to watch in silent awe, is prayer.

Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.

The second heroic woman is barely just that: she only turned the magic age of "21" a few months ago, which for most people, is a time to celebrate the final transition to adulthood by usually partying the night away with friends and family, but not her.  Reaching the age of 21, for her, was a mixture of "in your face" to the doctors that told her should wouldn't make it, to complete exhaustion from her long battle with her unknown assailant.

For her, and others suffering symptoms similar to hers, a name to call the savagely attacking internal villain didn't exist, so not only was she fighting a mysterious, ghostly presence, but the doubts and misconceptions from her myriad of doctors, friends and even some family members.

It took close to a year, countless surgeries (some necessary, some not), numerous misdiagnosis', exhausting hospital stays, bouncing from one doctor to another as she was poked, prodded, cut, scanned, drained and down to a mere weight of around 80 pounds for this 6'1" beauty to finally have her phantom given a name:

Superior Mesenteric Artery Syndrome (SMA).

Extremely rare and often mistaken for a host of other ailments, SMA is a slow, silent killer. 

And she has survived, beating the 1:3 odds!  Even while fighting the unknown, this incredible woman NEVER GAVE UP, even after be handed a death sentence from numerous doctors.  Once again, the power of prayer, the support of family, and the strength and determination to fight until the bitter end prevailed and today, she is recovering slowly but surely.

Due to the rarity of her condition, as well as the length of time for a proper diagnosis to be made, this brave young soul walked through the valley of the shadow of death alone.  Oh yes, her unbelievable mother, sister, family and friends loved her and prayed for her, but there was no one she could share this with that would truly understand the agony, fear, pain and desperation she felt, since she couldn't find anyone anywhere close to her that shared her mysterious ailments.

Until one day, she found a support group on Facebook.  SMA Support and Awareness Group.

Finally, she found fellow sufferers and lifelong friends!

Below are links to a series of videos on a fellow SMA patient that aired on Mystery Diagnosis, as well as one video this other warrior-in-the-trenches, Samantha Mina, made herself of her own trek through hell, giving you just a small glimpse of the magnitude of the battle they fight daily.  

How these true heroines continue their epic battles for control over their bodies, I will never know.  Their strength and determination is beyond my limited means of comprehension, and my hat is tipped and knee bowed in their direction, as any grateful peasant does at the site of their hero.

Video 1 - Mystery Diagnosis
Video 2 - Mystery Diagnosis
Video 3 - Mystery Diagnosis
Samantha's Story

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