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Life is short enough when not having to deal with health issues, but for some who do struggle with disease and symptoms, ‘short’ has an entirely differently meaning. I recently watched a 20/20 program on a disease that affects infants, Progeria. This report was hard to watch without feeling a lump in my throat, tears in my eyes and heaviness in my heart. This disease mirrors symptoms of that awful ‘absolute in life’ that we all want to avoid at all costs, aging.

Progeria is not considered to be an accelerated aging disease like Werner’s syndrome, Cockayne syndrome or xeroderma pigmentosum, since it is not caused by defective DNA repair. However, they do both share the aging signs that the average healthy young person does not deal with. Children with progeria, despite their aging symptoms, do have normal mental and motor development. Average life expectancy is 13 years.

While watching the lives of 3 children with this sad disease (which by the way, they all 3 displayed an unparalleled positive outlook on life and had the most fun spirited & outgoing personalities I’ve ever witnessed in a human), many thoughts went through my head. For one thing, it made me realize how lucky I am. There are days I complain about my curly, nappy, frizzy (must I go on?), Sicilian hair, and I have thoughts of cutting it all off, or wish I had straight hair, etc. I guess I just don’t know how blessed I am, after all I have the option to wear it curly or straight, keep it down or pull it up. Children with this disease have NO option because they lose their hair, how sad is that? It also made me feel like I should never complain about anything or even ask or pray for anything ever again. It made my own problems seem minute. I began to feel quite guilty. I only want to count my blessings from now on, and perhaps review them on a daily basis.

My brother Joe used to have these sayings that he would dish out at random times when people would complain, such as:

“I used to think I had ugly hands until I met a person who had no hands,” or … “I used to hate my feet until I met a person who had no feet,” and so on.

Isn’t it the truth though? My goodness. No wonder it is often said and quite well known that the best way to put an end to fixations on your own life’s problems is to help others with theirs. Then, miraculously, your problems seem to vanish into thin air.

Research is being done, and treatments have been offered to slow or put an end to the disease. However no known cure has been found to date. It has been discovered by researchers that there is a single gene mutation responsible for Hutchinson-Gilford progeria syndrome. The gene is known as lamin A (LMNA), which makes a protein necessary for holding the center (nucleus) of a cell together. It is believed by these researchers that the genetic mutation renders cells unstable, which appears to lead to progeria’s characteristic aging process. One can go online and do extensive research on this disease and there are also organizations available to contact for further info.

As a mother of 4, and now a grandmother of 4, I cannot fathom the pain of watching your infant and young child suffer through skin changes, abnormal growth, loss of hair, prominent eyes, stiff joints, hip dislocations, angina, high blood pressure, heart disease, strokes and ultimately early death. Answers to why a child must endure such horrible suffering may only come when we reach heaven. For now, while on earth, I think it speaks volumes to those of us who focus too much on ourselves. We should never think ‘less of ourselves,’ just think of ourselves less!

To sum up what I walked away with after watching this program is this…if we are unfit, unhealthy, unhappy and have a void in our spirituality, then it’s time we take a look at those suffering around us who do not choose nor want the disease infested life they are living. We cannot and must not throw our life out the window especially when we have the ability within us to overcome such corrupted mentality.  Embrace change today! Find your inner strength, ask help from God, and you will be on your way to a happier and healthier YOU! This way you will be in condition to help those who need your help – don’t forget that!

The ME-gan Lifestyle, created by Mary Bortel, inspired by God, promotes the ultimate in healthy eating, focusing on positivity, not negativity, and being in optimal mind & body so you can live, love, and be happy which in turn enables you to help those who need your help!

In helping others, we are helping ourselves and building a better world for all.

Love,

Mary

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