Am I even normal? Why am I different? What are these scars? What does the word "beautiful" even mean anymore? These are the questions what ran through my mind as a thirteen-year-old cystic fibrosis patient, standing in a two piece at a pool. This was the first time I experienced the word "different." I covered my body. I covered what I thought at the time as shameful things. Covering the lines and marks showing my struggle, I ran to the bathroom crying. I noticed everyone's stares and talking amongst themselves about me. As I was in the bathroom, I looked down at my scars with disgust! I ran my fingers over my scars crying and wishing they were gone or would disappear. From that day forward I started learning more and more about being different. Honestly, it never occurred to me, until that day how cystic fibrosis made me so different.
As time progressed I became consumed with the "normal" and "beautiful" of our society. Always looking at magazines and picking out what I thought made them beautiful. No marks were on their bodies, my body alone had 9 major marks. To me that was 9 too many. I had dark circles under my eyes, from always being tired. They all did not. There was so many flaws that was rushing through my head all the time. It got to the point where I would look in the mirror and just cry because of how ugly I thought of myself. I wasn't just talking about my body anymore, it became all of me. My face, my eyes, you name it I hated it.
Do I still feel and think like the person I use to be? No! When I was around twenty I was close to losing my life. My lungs became more infected than they ever have been. I was put on eight liters of oxygen, 24/7. I was house bound for almost a year. Walking around the store became near impossible for me. I was losing hope in myself. Telling people goodbye, and ready to leave the people I loved the most.
In one day my whole outlook on everything changed. My sister took me to a spot where you go to overlook the state we live in. I hadn't done it in months. Before we went I had it in my mind that this would be the last time I ever do this. I got to the top finally, out of breath, and couldn't hardly stand. I looked at the sunset and begun to cry. I realized, I am a fighter and always have been. That's what I had to do now, was fright. Fight for breathing and life. I began pushing my body to new limits. I had made goals for myself. My goals are to see and do things others do not think are possible for people with cystic fibrosis.
Through my goals and adventuring, you can say I have fallen in love with myself. I love every scar on my body. Each scar tells a story of how I am still alive and breathing. A lot of people can't say they have overcome over a hundred and twenty surgeries so far in their life time. Even my man-made belly button is beautiful. When I look in the mirror at myself now I see a strong, courageous, adventurous, and happy woman! I can walk around on the beach proud of what I look like. I am a beautiful woman, who has had some rough parts in her life. Now, I'm embracing every single one of them with a new perspective and love for myself.
When I became stronger with who I was, I wanted to make myself a promise. It was going to be something very meaningful and concrete. I found a ring company called, "Fred and Far. " They make pinky promise self love rings. When I got my ring I made a pinky promise to put myself and my health first. To love me, and all of me. Only allow people into my life if they respect my body and I. Don't take less than what you deserve. Stand up for what you believe in and want. Live every single day to the fullest and hold nothing back. I live out this promise every single day. When I feel a little weak I look at my ring and remember my promise and where I came from.
I am going to end this with a quote that inspired me. "You will never be successful unless you turn your pain into greatness. Allow your pain to push you from where you are to where you need to be. Stop running from your pain, and embrace your pain. Your pain is going to be part of your prize and product." I challenge you to push yourself and love yourself every day. All of you!
Kassandra Hope Case
Hope is raising money because she needs new lungs. If you want to help, click here.