As I look back on 2017, for the first time in several years, I see accomplishment. Life has a way of unfolding nicely and smoothly for us. It isn’t always a smooth ride. There are twists and turns and bumps along the way. They can hinder our journey through life and block our path to well-being. How we react and cope with these “ups and downs” in life is part of the process. A negative attitude produces a negative effect, whereas a positive attitude produces a positive effect.

I found this year to have many good and unexpected events. My niece and her husband had their first child (a boy) this past July. My nephew and his wife moved out of state very recently to settle into their new home. Other family members have had some successes and accomplishments this year. There are some failures, of course, but they are few and far between.

On the lighter side, I have written my tenth book this fall. I just need motivation to publish it this busy season. In addition, I purchased a new van last month for my new power chair. It took me six months to a year to get approved for a chair. It taught me a valuable lesson – to be persistent. You are your best advocate.

This year has proven to be successful in finding new and alternative medical treatments. After six and a half years of continual infusions, I feel progress has been made. Last week, I started a trial study on an experimental oral drug. Today I was approved assistance for Rituxan, an intravenous treatment that will be given every three months to replace monthly infusions. It is used to treat chronic autoimmune disorders and certain blood cancers/disorders.

I stopped walking normally over seven years ago, after first being diagnosed with cervical spondylosis with spinal compression. I had myelopathy in my hands, particularly in my left hand. It now affects both hands. It was soon discovered the same year that I had breast cancer. Several months later, I was diagnosed with LEMS, an autoimmune disorder. It left weakness in limbs and joints globally and affected my mobility. I struggled for years trying to find a new method, a new treatment and a better quality of life.

While at Emory yesterday, my doctor ordered a new MRI of my brain. It has been seven years since my last one. My hands shake more and the tremors seem to be getting a little worse. The nerve tissue that was damaged seems to be permanent, yet I am hopeful it is not worsening. I still am optimistic and positive. Hopefully, the tests will show no brain lesions or further progression of the disease.

On that note, I am wishing everyone a wonderful holiday season. May this be a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Spend time with your family and significant others. Get out and enjoy this time of the year. You will soon discover that it is a beautiful world out there, just waiting for you.