How the MG community renewed my faith and gratitude

The compassion and kindness of others brought needed changes to my life

Mark Harrington avatar

by Mark Harrington |

Share this article:

Share article via email
main banner for Mark Harrington's

Thanksgiving is a time to celebrate the past year’s blessings. It’s also a time to express gratitude for the people and things that make our lives meaningful and joyful. However, for some people, Thanksgiving can be a difficult and painful occasion.

Those with chronic illnesses may feel isolated, depressed, or hopeless. They may struggle with the physical and emotional challenges of their conditions, and feel as if they have nothing to be thankful for.

I understand how difficult it can be to find that spirit of gratitude when living with physical and emotional challenges. Since I was diagnosed with myasthenia gravis (MG) in 2020, I’ve spent most Thanksgivings feeling angry rather than grateful. I wanted the world to know what MG took from me. My anger, I believed, was justifiable.

This year was different, as much of the anger had dissipated. It felt as if a curtain had parted, and I was incredibly grateful.

Recommended Reading
banner image for

Seven Things I’m Thankful for This Holiday Season

The driving force of faith

As I reflected on the past year, I remembered an American history class I took during my sophomore year of college. While studying President John F. Kennedy, we learned about his mother, Rose, and watched an interview she gave to journalist Robert MacNeil in 1974.

For the first half of her life, Rose Kennedy’s world was one of great privilege. The second half of her life was filled with tragedies many would find unbearable. Her oldest son was killed in World War II, and one of her daughters died a few years later in a plane crash. Another daughter suffered a brain injury that left her institutionalized, and in the 1960s, Rose’s sons John and Bobby were assassinated.

Asked how she persevered, Kennedy replied, “If I only had one gift, if I had lost my wealth or my looks or my health, anything, and I just had faith, I think I could still accept the trials and tribulations which God has sent me. Because I trust in him, and I think he will take care of me and my children, and that he’ll never give me a cross heavier than I can bear.” For Rose, faith was the greatest gift of all.

After three years of living with MG, I see the wisdom in her words. These years have been filled with trips to emergency rooms, medications with difficult side effects, and painful medical procedures. At times I’ve felt beaten down and close to giving up. But at my lowest point, something pushed me on. Today, I define that driving force as faith.

To me, faith is the belief that tomorrow will be better than today. In the last 10 years, great advances have been made in the treatment of MG. My neurologist tells me there are new drugs in development that will continue this progress. There is hope. Maybe a cure is close at hand.

The patients, medical professionals, and caregivers who comprise the MG community renew my faith in the goodness of humans. Without this disease, I wouldn’t have met these individuals who changed me for the better.

I look back at my health journey and no longer see only chaos. My life, despite the many challenges MG brings each day, has a texture and delicacy it lacked before my diagnosis. Without the condition, changes I needed in my life would not have been possible.

As author Melody Beattie wrote, “Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.”

This Thanksgiving, I reflected on those whose compassion and kindness helped me arrive at a place where I once again experience gratitude and have faith that things will be better tomorrow.

Note: Myasthenia Gravis News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Myasthenia Gravis News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to myasthenia gravis.


Leave a comment

Fill in the required fields to post. Your email address will not be published.