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Friday, December 13, 2013

Making Choices

My Nephew Dan

"Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom."- Viktor Frankel

These words are some of the most powerful I have ever read. Viktor Frankel was imprisoned in a concentration camp in World War II.  As a psychologist he discovered this response in those that survived the camps. They felt life did not owe them anything, on the contrary they owed life something.  They survived because they found meaning in the incredible suffering they endured. Many set a goal to survive their experience so they could give witness to what had been done to them. They made a decision to resist their captors and to survive despite what happened to them.

Lots of bad things big and small happen to us in our lives.  The choices we make about those things define us and set the course for our lives.

I was thinking of this today because of three people in my life; my friend Gyldnis, my niece Brittany and my nephew Dan.

I had dinner with Gyldnis a few nights ago. She is fighting breast cancer. The good news it was caught really early. Through all of the treatment she has remained positive. She was just telling me she made a choice to stay positive. She shared how the experience has changed her life.  She wants to write a book about her cancer journey and help other patients. She feels she has found a real purpose for her life.  She made a choice to take the negative of cancer and share her story so other's will be prepared when cancer strikes their life.
My nieces, Brittany, Courtney, and Caitlin

My niece Brittany graduates this Monday with her Master's degree in counseling. She talked about majoring in pharmacy, but settled on Meteorology. She struggled with Calculus and could not pass this required course to advance in her major. She later told me it was her Dad that wanted her to do this major. She made the decision to switch to phychology so she could do graduate work in counseling. She shared with me how she told her high school guidance counselor that she wanted her job. Brittany just finished a school internship so she is on her way to making that happen. When I visited last year, she shared with me all the testing methods and other things she was learning in school. I could see her joy and passion for this work. I was so proud of her for following her heart. You can never be happy in your job unless you love your work.  I am so glad she has found something she loves so much and is so good at.

My nephew Dan graduated today with a Master of Business degree in accounting from Texas Tech. When Dan applied for graduate school he asked me to give him feedback on his essay. I was so moved by his story I did not change a thing. Dan was diagnosed when he was very young with Cerebral Palsy. With our family history, I think  he really has CMT.  CMT is often Miss-diagnosed as CP or other conditions. Dan's right foot was turned 90 degrees and he had tight calf muscles making walking difficult. Even though he is right handed, he could not use his right hand due to his condition.

His essay talked about the challenges he faced and how hard he worked to overcome them. He talked about hours of practice of soccer so he could make a select soccer team. He talked about spending hours teaching himself to type and write with his left hand. I was so impressed by the drive and maturity he displayed. He could have made excuses or given up. Instead he made a decision to work hard and let nothing stand in the way of his success. I am so proud of him.  I know he will continue to work hard to achieve the goals he has set for himself.

I can't wait to see what the future holds of all three of them.

I made the decision myself when I learned about my CMT. I never asked "why". I decided I was blessed to be running and to use that gift. I wanted to raise awareness of CMT, raise money for CMT and prove that those of us with CMT can live full active lives.  While I wish I did not have CMT, it has led to tremendous growth and opportunities.  I feel so blessed despite having CMT.

Sometimes I see members of our community sitting by and waiting for a cure. I realize how difficult life is for many of them. But remember every day you are given a choice. What choice will you make? What will your response be. In your choice may be your power and growth. I hope like Gyldnis, Brittany and Dan you will choose well.

Team CMT Founder Chris Wodke

Chris Wodke
Founder & Manager Team CMT

Team CMT is a group of athletes and supporters working to raise awareness and to find a cure for CMT. We have 137 members in 27 states. We also have members in Australia, Canada, Vietnam, Turkey, Finland and Iran. If you wish to join us visit our web site.

CMT or Charcot-Marie-Tooth is the most commonly inherited peripheral neuropathy. It affects over 155,000 Americans (as many as MS).  It is a disease of the nerves that control the muscles. It is slowly progressive, causing loss of normal function and or sensation in the lower legs/feet and arms/hands.

Symptoms include; muscle wasting in the lower legs and feet leading to foot drop, poor balance and gait problems Atrophy in the hands causes difficulty with manual dexterity.

Structural foot deformities such as high arches and hammer toes are common.

Poor tolerance for cool or cold temperatures and many people have chronically cold hands and feet.

Additional symptoms may include fatigue, sleep apnea, breathing difficulties and hearing loss.

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