“People are always blaming their circumstances for what they are. I don’t believe in circumstances. The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and if they can’t find them, make them.” -G.B. Shaw
“If you want something bad enough, you can make it happen.” We’ve all heard it. Some of us have grown up around the statement, while others have had it thrown at them to dismiss a complaint over various struggles and frustrations in life. It’s such a simple sentence, yet one that can have a powerful effect on the people who hear it. I spent countless hours tossing this statement around in my head before I finally came to the conclusion that everyone views it differently. Is it just meant to be a kind word of encouragement or a witty remark to silence another individual’s self-pity? Many people view it as a positive way to uplift someone in a difficult situation while others strictly believe that it’s just a harsh dismissal. It all depends on how you decide to process it- You can choose to use it in a positive way or you can put a negative spin on it if you so desire. Life’s circumstances are just the same; you can find ways to better yourself in difficult positions or you can choose to dwell on them.
For as long as I can remember, my parents have encouraged my siblings and I to follow our dreams and do whatever we desired with our lives. It has never mattered to them whether we grew up to become successful entrepreneurs or if one of us were to decide that we wanted to pursue a music career- as long as we’re happy with ourselves, they will be happy too. I always thought that I would be doing huge things with my life by now. I had all kinds of outrageous plans for my future-self. When asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, my five year old self would have simply responded with “Famous”! As I got older, my answers became more specific. At nine or ten years old, I had convinced myself (and everyone around me) that I would grow up to work with NASA. By the time I was in high school, I knew that I wanted to become a doctor. As my circumstances changed, my plans for the life ahead of me did the same.
I never in a million years would have guessed that I would be here- advocating for my rare disease. Our circumstances are always changing, in both ways good and bad. No matter how much we plan ahead and prepare, we come face to face with struggles that we never could have seen coming. Every day, I set new goals for myself. I know that people probably see my goals as completely outrageous, but I’m okay with that. When I do prove my potential, it will be the sweetest victory.
I challenge all of you to set a goal that nobody would expect you to accomplish. Overcome your circumstances. Think of something that scares you to death. Maybe you’ve always wanted to be an airplane pilot, or want to go out of your comfort zone and share your life story in hopes of encouraging others? Be spontaneous. When you finally fly solo, you may find it to be the best thing that has ever happened to you.
“The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” -Mark Twain
2014 has taught me more about myself than I ever would have thought possible. This year I learned how to fight harder than I ever have before. Because of my acquired fighting skills, I reached my twenty-first birthday. After the year I’ve had, it felt like my 21st birthday would never get here! This year has not been easy. In just 365 days I have endured multiple surgeries, spent months in the ICU, learned how to walk with leg braces, I’ve been through four different central lines, I became one of the first patients in the country to be placed on a constant IV Benadryl pump, went through four different types of feeding tubes, added another diagnosis to the list and became the comeback girl.
I’ve always been vocal about the fact that I believe I was chosen to fight these monster illnesses for a reason. In this day and age, there are hundreds of crippling illnesses that need better treatments and the only way to spread awareness is to talk about them. Embarrassing or not, who is going to raise awareness for my disease if I don’t do it myself? The best decision I made in 2014 was starting Brynn’s Bubble. I had no idea how much I would gain from opening up about my invisible illnesses. After my story was shared on the Huffington Post, I began receiving emails from complete strangers who told me that by speaking out about Mast Cell Disease I saved their lives. I was contacted by mothers who told me that if they had not stumbled upon my story, their children likely would have gone untreated for another ten years just as I did. Other individuals thanked me for helping them find the cause behind deadly allergic reactions. Knowing that my voice has helped others is the most rewarding feeling in the world and it makes all of my struggles over the years worth it. I have no idea how to even begin to thank all of you for the overwhelming amount of support that you’ve given me.
Sometimes we are handed situations that seem impossible to overcome. Life is unpredictable and we never know what will happen from one day to another, but I can promise you that it gets better one way or another. I never imagined that I would be able to make a comeback. At the beginning of 2014 I couldn’t even stand without assistance from a walker or leg braces- Today I can walk up the stairs without thinking twice about it. I’ve attended various concerts over the past few months and was able to dance the night away at each one. (Of course I had to pay for it the next day, but IT WAS WORTH IT!) Thanks to IVIG treatments, I am now able to eat foods that once caused Anaphylaxis. I’m not anywhere close to being cured, but I am so much better than I have been in the past. To anyone out there who may be struggling- Never lose hope. Don’t give up on yourself. Allow yourself to keep striving for the things you wish to accomplish and don’t lose sight of them. Life may be confusing now, but one day it will all make sense.
I’m going to make 2015 my year. I will attempt things that I’ve always wanted to try. I refuse to let these illnesses control me any more than they already have. I will keep working hard so that I can finally get my high school diploma. I will face my biggest fears. Maybe this will be the year that I finally get to meet Ellen DeGeneres and see a taping of her show. Maybe this will be the year of medical breakthroughs. I don’t know what my 21st year of life has in store for me, but I am determined to fight harder than ever to make sure that it is the best year yet. Mast Cell Disease, Dysautonomia/POTS, Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, & Gastroparesis- watch out because Brynn Duncan is making a comeback.