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I Love My Life! Living Strong with a Chronic Illness

With a little help from your friends and family, you can still love your life and have fun if you're a teenager living with a chronic illness.

Living Strong continued...

Friends Helping Friends Love Life

Sometimes teens feel hopeless and helpless when first diagnosed with a chronic illness. But that's when they really need their friends and family cheering them on more than ever. Here are some tips you can use to help your friends:

  • Encourage. Stay on top of them. If friends with diabetes forget to check their insulin, remind them! Don't hound them or anything like that, but say, "Hey, I think you may have forgotten your insulin. Why don't you do it really fast while we've got a break?"
  • Support. Be there for them. Remember, they didn't ask for the illness. It's luck of the draw, who gets a health problem as a teenager. If your friend has to go in for another round of treatment, offer to go along, and take a Nintendo or other game to play. Offer to pick up a homework assignment for them. Or make them a "favorite songs" CD mix, something to listen to while they are getting treatment.
  • Listen. Sometimes listening is the best thing you can do. Listening to a friend's anger and fears can help them feel a sense of release.

More Sound Advice

According to internist Kim Smith, MD, if you're diagnosed with a chronic illness, you have to think positively and still live your life to the fullest. "I recommend that my younger patients stay physically active and enjoy their music. Exercise and music are great distractions that let teens forget their problems for a while. Plus, being with people you like -- your good friends -- is important in the recovery process."

When to Talk to Your Doctor

A chronic illness might keep you from participating in sports or other activities. Some kids even have to be home-schooled for a while. That's why you need to be part of a support team with your parents and doctors. Discuss your plans with your "team" and let them help you create a healthy life plan.

Also, your attitude helps you keep your illness from getting you down. Sure, you'll have good days and bad days. However, just as Lance Armstrong believed he could beat cancer -- and did -- you can approach your illness with a winning attitude and love your life!

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Reviewed on April 01, 2007

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