Reminding Myself That I Am Braver, Stronger, and Smarter

Suzanne DePaolis avatar

by Suzanne DePaolis |

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You’re braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”

These words are on a plaque that hangs from my medicine shelf. I see them every day as I take my morning and evening medication. They serve as a reminder that I can continue to move forward in life.

The words encourage me to swallow my handful of morning pills and get ready for the day. In the evening, those same words remind me that I made it through another day. I need them to remind myself that I am braver, stronger, and smarter than my diagnosis.

This quote became famous when Disney created the 1966 animated mini-film “Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree.” The character Christopher Robin said these powerful words to his best friend, Winnie the Pooh, when discussing what would happen if they were ever separated. Winnie the Pooh states that he is not brave, strong, or smart. Christopher Robin reminds Pooh that he is — and so much more.

I am braver than I believe.

I can get through anything. After many years of prednisone treatment, my veins have become very fragile. I hate getting IV lines. They can hurt a lot. Having a nurse try five times to get a line in can seem inhuman, but it’s a medical necessity so that I can get the antibiotics and other medications I need.

I remind myself that I am brave. I can do this. I look back at some of the tests and procedures I have been through, and it amazes me that I was brave enough to get through them.

I am stronger than I seem.

Some days I want to pull the covers over my head and stay in bed all day. Many days, that is not an option for me.

When I was first diagnosed with eosinophilic granulomatosis with polyangiitis (EGPA), my children were young. My husband traveled for his job, and I lived thousands of miles away from family. There was no choice but to get up every day and take care of my kids.

There was no backup. I had to be strong, I had to make life as normal as possible for my children, and I had to live.

I became focused on getting through the day, no matter what. I would go to a doctor’s appointment, receive some unsettling news, cry and scream in my car, and then wipe away my tears and pick up my children from school. Sometimes being strong is the only option.

These days, my kids are adults, and I can rely on them for help, but I am grateful that my inner strength has allowed me to get through difficult days.

I am smarter than I think.

My EGPA diagnosis rattled my world and filled me with tons of self-doubt. The Cytoxan (cyclophosphamide) and prednisone I took for my illness made my concentration diminish. I was no longer able to be the avid reader I once was. I mourned this loss.

I was too busy mourning what I had lost in terms of concentration and reading ability to realize that the truth was my focus was shifting. I was not any less intelligent, I was just no longer interested in some of the subjects I used to spend hours obsessing over. What I failed to see was that I was spending my time focused on medical articles and texts. I was learning a whole new field.

I was so busy trying to recapture my old life that I forgot to look forward and see whom I was becoming. It was not easy, and it took time, but I now know I am smarter than I think.

“Braver, stronger, smarter” is what we need to remind ourselves as ANCA vasculitis patients. I am glad I have the plaque as a daily reminder during my times of self-doubt.

What reminds you that you are braver, stronger, and smarter? Please share in the comments below.


Note: ANCA Vasculitis News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of ANCA Vasculitis News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to ANCA vasculitis.


Denise Humphrey avatar

Denise Humphrey

I was a nurse for 38years and worked hard saving my money and dreaming of full retirement. On april 12th I had my wonderful retirement with my coworkers of 30 years. Lots of fan fare and congrats. On june 12th my world fell apart and I was in hospital fighting for my life with diagnosis of GPA.
My husband and had to cancel all of our dream trips. Today I am remission now for last year and covid hits. I have learned to modify everything in my life including those dream vacations.

Suzanne DePaolis avatar

Suzanne DePaolis

I am glad you have learned to modify your dream trips without having to cancel them.


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