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Sarcoidosis has taught me a valuable life lesson. It has taught me the value of the choices I make and how those choices impact my life and the lives of others. Putting it another way, it has taught me how to tap into the better angel in my nature and for this I am utterly grateful.

Before this disease, I thought I was a pretty nice person, most of the time, but I was also a very distracted person, always preoccupied with work or my own “stuff”.  And if I am brutally honest, I was sometimes a judgmental person. I didn’t necessarily want to be judgmental but it came a lot easier before my disease. I was sure I was right about things even when I knew that I didn’t have all the facts. I trusted my gut, and my instincts while good, were not always right. I had an edge. I was overly competitive. I had to be the best at things. There was an arrogance in my nature.

This disease has kicked me around. It has beaten me up and knocked me down. It has taught me the value of humility. I have not just learned to be humble because I am now living in a situation most people don’t understand and often judge, as I once judged, but I have learned that life is far too precious a commodity to squander on oblivious cruelty and being judgmental can be quite cruel. I hadn’t intended to be cruel. I didn’t want to be but there was a part of me that was, because there was a part of me that thought I knew better than others.

Yet despite the fact that this disease has torn me down, it also built me into a better version of myself. It has given me a strange insight, a new perspective and oddly, I have come to appreciate my disease. I have not come to appreciate all the aches and pains or challenges that come my way. I do get frustrated and sad about what I can no longer do but despite this, I have also been given the acumen to make better decisions about where to put my energy and time. I have learned to be a genuinely nicer person. I no longer have the need to be number one and I am actually happy now for the person who is. I consciously take steps to try to better understand others before I make assumptions and I try to choose my words a lot more carefully because I have a better understanding of the harm that they can inflict.

Because of this disease, I find that I want to be a better person than I used to be. I want to be kinder, softer and gentler. Life is short and regrets are hard to overcome. This disease is helping me better live without them because I have learned to harness the power of the better angel in my nature.