When Sickness and Purpose Come Calling by Hilary Jastram

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In conjunction with the release of my book, Sick Success: The Entrepreneur’s Prescriptions for Turning Pain into Purpose and Profit, it’s important to address the sickly elephant in the room. Namely…that more people are sick and hurting than you think.  

Maybe you’ve heard the buzzword: invisible illness. It’s bandied about, seeming to have little weight or meaning, but I want to invite you into my world for a minute to illustrate that this is not the case. 

Over half of Americans are chronically ill. This data from the CDC was provided in 2014, and the trend is continuing upward, so I posit, truly more than half are sitting (or likely lying down) in the throes of suffering. They aren’t experiencing the type of illness that clears up after a few days of rest. The states and qualities of people’s lives have changed—not to mention the people who are sick for an extended period of time (not lifelong) due to cancer treatment, or shorter-term disabilities. No, we are not a well country. 

Around April 1, 2014, my body waged mutiny. First, my feet felt like they were asleep for extended periods of time. No position change would alleviate it. Then, I experienced the sensation of wet patches on my legs (quite confusing after drying off after a shower), and the symptoms worsened. I had vertigo for seven months. I lost my job. I lost my identity. I lost my self-esteem. It was a bleak and dark time and there was only me…lurking on the computer to decipher the words of the doctor. “Neoplasm,” a.k.a. tumor. I was terrified and instantly isolated amidst family and loved ones begging to get in. 
 
Then, thankfully, my transverse myelitis stabilized enough to meditate on the “why.” And not the usual meandering thoughts of “why me?” But I pondered on “why did this happen, and what am I supposed to do with my new reality?” I had known a gentleman with cancer who had held a high position in a large, national corporation, and from my outside view, it seemed like he threw himself into his work even more than he had before his diagnosis. I started to wonder what the gift was, and truly, I was tired of viewing my life as a series of obstacles. It was easier to walk toward gaining a positive position than to prepare to fight myself…again. 
 
Sure, a tough childhood, blah, blah, blah. Marriage-go-round, whatever. We all have STUFF. I didn’t want this disease to become just another excuse to feel bad. I wanted to draw near to it, instead of inching away. I wanted to immerse myself in my experience of rewriting the existence I desired, one of inclusion and comfort. I wanted to be a part of the conversation to remove the stigma that sick and disabled people face. And I found intense empowerment, not just in my own life, but in discovering that helping others to see and use their own superpowers was a different kind of growing stronger.  
 
This true vulnerability repainted my life in different shades I never would have chosen if presented with the palette. 

I wrote about being open, confronting fear, misbeliefs, values that hadn’t served me and that had hurt others. I was willing to be molded by this wrench in the works, and I wanted others to experience what it felt like to freefall away from control. 

I wrote some more. In fact, mere weeks after my diagnosis that came five terrifying months and two neurologists later, I became a contributor to The Good Men Project. 

I am so grateful to Sound Wisdom for allowing the sounding board to share my experiences so they might benefit others. We are on this planet to love and Sick Success is your guidebook to emerging into strength from vulnerability in all areas of your life. 

You can reexamine the moments you will never forget for all the wrong reasons and learn there are no accidents—that if we respect the detours life throws in our way and we veer with a graceful heart we may find our purpose. So many times we are afraid to not fight; we want to resist what seems to go against our plans in life, the flimsy control we have exerted in our careers and relationships.  

As I often share with readers, we have a choice as to the level of pain we will experience. If we remain angry about what has befallen us—say, a diagnosis or loss—we will stay in the misery because we condemn ourselves to it.  
 
I came out of the fire. In some regards, I was lucky. But in others, I was deliberate and finally shucked off the pity I’d heaped on myself for years. I couldn’t be accepted or loved for who I was. I was exhausting. I was talkative, too energetic. I had weird tastes, hung out with odd people. And internally I screamed for decades. But this was my fault. I chose to live like that. I selected toxicity as if I had merely plucked a chocolate out of a box.  

The instant I took back the control to choose my reactions and actions is when I was set free. 

Sick Success is about finding your freedom from judgment, physical imprisonment, and the glass ceiling where we trap ourselves. It is about walking into our triggers to discover our mettle and owning our brilliance and gifts, and it’s also about understanding our responsibility to link to others and extend our gifts to them. It is about doing it all without fear or the threat that someone will sweep in and take it away. It is yours. No one else can even compare.  

When you read the book, I hope you will share with me how your life has transformed, simply by altering your thoughts, simply by shifting your perceptions into personal abundance. 

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The founder of Sick Biz, Hilary Jastram uses her experience with chronic illness to support other entrepreneurs with disabilities and invisible illnesses in their journey toward success and freedom. Her book Sick Success: The Entrepreneur’s Prescriptions for Turning Pain into Purpose and Profit is available now from AmazonBarnes & NobleBooks-a-Million, and other major retailers.