Sherrie is a young wife and mother of three children living in Oregon. In 2005, she was diagnosed with lichen sclerosus, a vulvar dermatological disorder that causes vulvar skin alterations and pain. Her daughter was also diagnosed with lichen sclerosus two years ago. Sherrie’s experiences have inspired her to speak out about the condition and her struggles through her blog, and to provide support and encouragement to other women and girls suffering from vulvar dermatologic conditions and pain.
My father Rex is an amazing man. I cannot remember a time in my life that I was not aware that my dad was sick. However, he is a great example of a person that accepts his fate and pushes forward. My father was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in his thirties and over the years I’ve watched his health decline. He’s had three brain surgeries and numerous struggles with his disorder. Yet he has always been an example of a person who would do anything for a friend, loved one or complete stranger. He would literally give you the shirt off his back.
He’s always been a hard-worker, can be stubborn most of the time and is quiet, but he has a great sense of humor and has always believed in and supported me. He’s never given in to his disease. He’s always fighting and trying to do things that most people take for granted because he wants to be independent. I will never know completely the heartache he has gone through, but I am aware of all the things he’s had to give up, such as driving, a good night’s sleep, working, fishing, hobbies and even the ability to get around without falling. Although my dad has never broken down in front of me, I’m sure he’s had moments of despair and fear. Like my dad, I don’t bemoan my disease either.
In my darkest hours, I sit and think about how I’ve suffered and will continue to suffer, how at best I’ll have remissions followed by flare-ups, but will never be completely cured. However, I’ve been raised by a dad that taught me how to gracefully go through life with a disease. I come from a family of survivors who endure and continue to have hope. I am my father’s daughter.
Wallowing in despair drains from me all that is vibrant and joyful in my life. It kills my ambition, pollutes my soul and breaks my heart. Hope inspires me to trust that I am strong enough to handle my disease and not let it dictate my life. Instead of having hope for a cure, I have hope that no matter how unbearable my current pain may be, there will always be beautiful things all around me – my children, family, friends and nature – that I treasure while coping with pain.
For me, hope and charity go hand-in-hand. I love doing things for other people because it not only distracts me from thinking only of myself and my chronic pain, but it urges me to care for other people without expectation of reward. I’ve been devoted to charity and good works since I was a child. It is weaved into the fabric of my being.
If you are suffering with lichen sclerosus, vulvodynia, or some other sickness or trial in your life, never surrender and never allow despair to overcome you. Press forward and know that tomorrow is a new day – full of possibility and hope.