Meagan is smart and witty and successful. Meagan is unflappable. She has three children, who are so cute you could eat them with a spoon as well as a handsome, successful husband. She is living the suburban American dream.
But not long ago Meagan told me a secret. She has Hepatitis B. A blood-borne disease, often considered an STD. She came upon this potentially life-threatening illness through no fault of her own. In fact, she’s such a good egg, she was a high school student trying to donate blood when it was discovered, a virus passed onto her in utero.
Meagan’s family doctor told her not to worry, this diagnosis was of no concern. So being the sweet, trusting teenager she was, she didn’t worry. Until she reached adulthood and came under the care of a wise and knowing physician who told her the truth- there was much to be worried about here. For instance, this could lead to her eventual death via liver cancer. She could pass this on to her children. Should the virus begin actively replicating she would need aggressive therapy to combat it.
Meagan wanted to make those beautiful babies, which meant treatments after pregnancy to keep from passing the virus on and a fateful day in which she had to have her child tested to determine if the vaccination had worked. Had she passed it on? While she didn’t hold her own Mother responsible for passing on this condition she did feel guilty at the mere thought of passing it on to her child.
But her guilt was needless because the testing came back clear. Her joy was fleeting however, because shortly after her pregnancy, the virus began replicating itself in her body. For the first time, she had to face the reality of a hellacious treatment, similar to chemotherapy and a potential worst-case scenario outcome. Why do bad things happen to good people, she wondered?
Meagan weathered the viral replication and its successful treatment not once, but twice. She was a statistical wonder, lucky her. Her husband must be vaccinated against the virus and there are precautions to be taken.
For now, Meagan avoids steroids and anything else that might weaken her immune system, lest the virus might begin to replicate again. Yearly, she goes in for testing. And then she waits. Has the virus reared its ugly head once again? Will she be forced to endure the treatment she despises once more? Each year when the doctor calls with the “all clear” she thanks her lucky stars and hopes she’s seen the last of the virus.
You might know Meagan. She could be your next-door neighbor, the one with the adorable haircut who always sends her son over to help you with the leaves. She could be you daughter’s favorite teacher at school. She could be the veterinarian, the pastor’s wife, and the soccer mom. Meagan doesn’t share her story. She doesn’t want people to know. She fights her battles behind closed doors.
Today, when you look at the people around you, can I challenge you to remember there is more than meets the eye? There may be much more to the story. While all is picture perfect on the outside, illness or struggle may be lurking on the inside. Click To Tweet
“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.”
*Feature image courtesy of Pixabay