You need to read this one.
At the age of nine, after years of nagging pain and discomfort, Hashini Chandrasiri was diagnosed with a very rare bone condition called fibrous dysplasia, which causes scar-like tissue to take the place of normal bone and marrow. This leads to absurdly weak bones that are unable to support body weight and degenerate at a considerably fast pace.
Hashini describes the diagnosis as “being punched in the stomach.” It did not, however, stop her from living her life. Here are the lessons she taught us:
Studies are non-negotiable: “My parents consistently instilled in me the importance of a good education and I took their advice to heart. I think it’s one of the things that really helped keep me centred even during the tougher times.” Knowledge is the great equaliser. And regardless of where you come from, or any physical handicap you my have, being smart and well-informed will always give you a place at the table.
You know your body better than anyone else: At first, Hashini was misdiagnosed again and again. “The doctors came up with various theories and conditions to explain my symptoms. It was a constant case of going back and forth, one failed diagnosis after the other,” she says. “Eventually, I was diagnosed with bone cancer and they started treating me for it. When I didn’t respond to the treatment, I finally decided to take matters into my own hands and started doing independent research.” Listening to your doctor is the smart thing to do. But, at the end of the day, if you don’t feel it’s right, there’s nothing stopping you from doing your own research and asking your doctor about it.
Your mind can conquer anything: “I made a firm choice to not use painkillers. While it’s agonising living without them, I know that in the long run, I’m doing my body a huge favour. I made a decision, than and there, that I would not let my condition define me.” While pain is physical, your mind can choose to process it without any help. Conditioning your body to rely totally on itself makes you stronger physically, but also mentally — there’s the realisation that your body is your vehicle to drive, and one that will last you through your life.
Life can be a B!T&#, but you can (and will) rise above: After having learned that she would never have full use of both her legs, Hashini says that life threw her “the ultimate blow. At the age of 15, I lost my mother to kidney failure…I let go of everything I had once valued so much, locking myself up in my room for days on end and refusing to talk to anybody. It finally dawned on me that I was completely losing myself and everything I had worked so hard to achieve.”
To work through her emotions, Hashini started painting: “…it was a way (through colour and movement) for me to reflect on my feelings. My paintings were conveying the emotions I couldn’t express in words. When the inevitable happened and my leg finally broke, I lay in bed with plaster of Paris up to my waist, half my canvas above my head and continued to paint.”
It’s not all about you: “I don’t feel sorry for myself at all. If you were to ask me how I feel, I’d say I feel like the luckiest girl in the world. I have friends and family that support me unconditionally. I may have to use a crutch, but I can still rock a pair of heels. Call me naive, but I feel like good things happen when you decide to be a good person. And if you don’t push yourself to be the best you can possibly be, then really, you’ve wasted an opportunity, don’t you think?”
Read Hashini’s full story (‘Strong To The Bone’) in the May 2016 edition of Cosmopolitan. Subscribe now to get a free issue.
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