Never give up so easily

Am I the lucky one or the unlucky one?

Wherever the art of medicine is loved, there is also a love of humanity.

–Hippocrates

I am fortunate to have grown up in a medical family: my grandfather and his brothers are traditional Chinese medical doctors. In fact, since my parents took charge of one of my grandfather’s traditional medicine shops, I have spent more time there than at home. Whenever I felt sick, my grandfather always gave me the best herbs to cure my illness and taught me basic medical knowledge. My grandfather’s medicine is really amazing: after taking my grandfather’s medicine in my 5th grade, I grew 12 cm in one year.

But I’ve also had an unlucky life, one chained by sickness. In my early childhood, I needed to sleep more than 10 hours or else I would feel weak the entire day. When my mom found red spots on my face, she took me to several hospitals, but no doctor knew what was wrong. My mystery ailment was finally diagnosed as vasculitis, an incurable disease which causes constant sleepiness, fatigue, red spots, and swollen wounds. The only way to avoid the symptoms is to maintain positive emotions, get enough sleep, and avoid excessive exposure to sunlight.

Once my family discovered what vasculitis was, we recognized that my two aunts had the same disease. Unfortunately, this knowledge was unearthed too late to aid them, and both of them eventually passed away from cancer caused by vasculitis. We were all shocked, especially my grandfather, who thought that he had failed as a doctor because he couldn’t save them. A common complaint then came into my mind-–why me?

Since that time, I have told myself a lot of negative stories about myself. I considered myself non-photogenic, the exact opposite of what a model should be. Finally, in high school, I decided to rewrite my own story. Thus, I summoned the courage to enter a modeling competition. When I first stepped onto the stage, my body was shaking; I felt so nervous. I had never before stood in front of so many cameras and contended with thousands of beautiful competitors. I was tempted to hide in the bathroom, but I stayed and realized that no one in the competition knew I had vasculitis; if I presented myself as a confident, beautiful young woman. That is how people would see me. So I calmed my mind and did my best to take command of the stage. As I rewrote my story, from ugly duckling to beautiful swan, people believed my new story was true, as if to confirm for me the words of Italian dramatist Luigi Pirandello, “It is so, if you think it so.”

Life is a precious, yet perishable gift. Somehow, my disease inspires me to live my life to the utmost. None of us knows how life will play out. The smartest people in the world are trying to determine if the stock market will rise or fall tomorrow, so how can the rest of us know our final destinations? As long as I have life, I have hope, and the greatest purpose of all is to give life and hope to others. I am, in health and in sickness, the lucky one.

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