I am a warrior.

A chronic illness warrior pose.

Photo courtesy Pixabay.


I refuse to let my blog become a forum for my chronic illness. There’s so much more to me and my life than feeling like crap. But damn if it doesn’t keep creeping into my blogs. It did it again this week.

Last week, I wrote that I was struggling to accept this illness shit, but that I hadn’t figured it out yet. Then my sister in Chicago called, and in our discussion, I had some great insights. I felt compelled to write about them. So I’m going to post what I’ve written, but that’s it for awhile. Next week, expect something more fun if it kills me.


Earlier this year, I wrote my four brothers an email with the specifics of the surgery I would be getting in May. My parents and my sister already knew the particulars of the very intimate procedure, since I talk with them regularly on the phone.

My brothers and I talk less frequently. I couldn’t bring myself to call each of them and go through the whole story four more times. Plus, they’re, you know – guys – and I’m, well – a prude – so I opted for electronic communication.

Before I hit “send” on my email, I showed it to my husband Michael, who said, “That’s brave.”

It didn’t feel brave, it felt necessary. But it got me wondering about what it means to be brave in the face of chronic illness. Then, when I wrote about acceptance last week, it got me wondering:

What takes more strength – to accept, or to fight?

You’d think at first glance that of course fighting takes more strength. When you’re facing chronic or terminal illness, fighting means painful, time consuming treatments; endless researching; getting second opinions; lifestyle changes; and enough drugs and supplements to warrant a second mortgage, all the while staying hopeful and positive. Phew. I’ve certainly done my share of all of this.

But remember the fight-or-flight autonomic response that you learned about in high school? Fighting in a crisis is something we’re engineered to do. It comes naturally.

In a way, it’s easy.

Flight is our other reflex in a crisis. To run away like this is sometimes the smartest form of self-preservation.

But there’s no running away when chronic illness creeps into your life. So it’s easy to give up or give in. I would never fault anyone for getting to this place of resignation or complacency. But those responses seem to me to come from a place of weakness.

Acceptance is different. Acceptance comes from a place of strength. It feels empowering to me, like being in a yoga mountain or warrior pose. Powerful but still. Confident.

When I feel my worst, I’m not very accepting. In those hours, I’m more hot mess than mountain.

But in my better moments, when I sit back, think about my life and realize it will not be what I imagined, that’s when I see acceptance peeking over my shoulder. It beckons me. It wants me to follow.

I’m trying to listen and I want to move toward acceptance. I hope I’m strong enough to take that step.

Wait, I take that back.

I AM strong enough. Right now, I’m on the precipice, not yet ready to step off and trust. But when the time comes, I will ROCK acceptance.



  • Karen DeBonis

    Karen DeBonis writes about motherhood, people-pleasing, and personal growth, the entangled mix told in her memoir "Growth: A Mother, Her Son, and the Brain Tumor They Survived" forthcoming in spring 2023. Subscribe today to receive Chapter 1: A Reckoning.

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  1. Phonegal52@yahoo.com on August 4, 2017 at 10:13 AM

    Another great read I am sorry that you have to go through this. You are a beautiful strong woman and you are in my prayers

    • kaydee82@earthlink.net on August 4, 2017 at 12:17 PM

      Thanks for commenting, Michelle, and thanks as always for your support and the prayers :)

  2. Lciraulo3@gmail.com on August 4, 2017 at 11:03 AM

    Karen, a very moving blog. Chronic illness is very difficult, and it is no wonder why you experience varying emotions. In my opinion one needs to do both – fight and flight. And I think it changes as one continues to live with the disease. I am no sure who wrote it, but remember the "Serenity Prayer: God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference,". Loretta

    • kaydee82@earthlink.net on August 4, 2017 at 12:21 PM

      Thanks for your comment, Loretta. :) In an earlier draft of this blog, I actually included the serenity prayer! But then it just got too long. But I am working on the wisdom part – there are still parts of this that I can and will fight, but other parts I’m going to have to live with. In a couple of months, when all my treatment options (that I know of) are exhausted, then I’ll know what’s left.

  3. cearing@rkinsurance.com on August 4, 2017 at 12:44 PM

    This is VERY powerful and well written. Anyone can relate to this, i know i can. It takes a very strong person to learn how to accept things and be at peace with their decision. Keep staying strong, your an inspiration.

    • kaydee82@earthlink.net on August 4, 2017 at 2:07 PM

      Thank you Chrissie, and thanks for commenting. Yes, there’s probably very few people who don’t have things to work out in their lives, whether they’re physical, emotional, spiritual or whatever. Finding peace is the hard part. I’ll keep on working on it!

  4. vhnelson030@gmail.com on August 4, 2017 at 3:01 PM

    Nicely written. I think the only way we can fight against whatever we encounter, is after we learn to accept. So happy for the warrior you are.

    • kaydee82@earthlink.net on August 4, 2017 at 6:01 PM

      Thanks Vicki! And thank you for commenting :)

  5. Jeff on August 4, 2017 at 4:47 PM

    You are!! Miss you. 😘

    • kaydee82@earthlink.net on August 4, 2017 at 6:03 PM

      You’re so sweet, Jeff! Thanks for commenting :)

  6. peggyfran07@gmail.com on August 4, 2017 at 6:07 PM

    Hi Karen,
    It is so nice to be able to keep up with you this way. It is scary to be open and honest and you have done both with grace.

    • kaydee82@earthlink.net on August 4, 2017 at 8:54 PM

      Peggy – good to see you here! Yes, this commenting system seems to be working better so far and it is a nice way to keep in touch. It’s wonderful to get the support. Thanks for your compliment!

  7. Jkconway8@gmail.com on August 4, 2017 at 11:05 PM

    Hi Karen,
    Well written. I admire your strength and perseverance.

    • kaydee82@earthlink.net on August 5, 2017 at 11:53 AM

      Yay! It works! I’m so happy to see your comment, Kathleen. And thanks for your encouragement.

  8. psrampolla@gmail.com on August 5, 2017 at 4:35 AM

    Wow! Karen. Your honesty and courage are amazing. Keep doing what you are doing. Remember wisdom comes from lived experience not from books. That’s why you have become so wise. Love you.

    • kaydee82@earthlink.net on August 5, 2017 at 11:54 AM

      Thanks Pat! So much of my wisdom I’ve learned from you. Love you back.

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