“I love you and I would do anything for you,” is a phrase we commonly say to those we love. What if there was nothing you could do, to make that person whole? Because what they really wish is not something that we can give.
A hug, a touch, a feeling in the legs, and a pain free body, are gifts that all the love in the world can’t give. For most of us, those things are trivial. However, for my friend, that is not so.
Meet my friend Kathy Sabbagh. She is a beautiful, strong, intelligent, loving, and adventurous 36 years old. She was only 18 years old; at the prime of her life. After horrifying pain, and much testing, she was diagnosed with “Schwannomatosis”; a rare genetic disorder where tumors grow on the peripheral nerves throughout the body. It causes severe, incapacitating pain and neurological dysfunction. Therefore, tight hugs, pats on the back, and walks in the park are out of the question.
Since her diagnosis, she has had 22 surgeries in 18 years; most of them in her spinal cord. While we were all partying, finding love and making plans for the future, she has spent all of her adulthood from hospital to hospital, doctor to doctor, surgery to surgery. While most of us at age 36 have had a full, eventful life, marriage, kids, education, professions, Kathy has yet to forge a life of her own, a life halted abruptly at 18.
I know we have seen those courageous souls in wheelchairs that are an inspiration and life seems to be business as usual, even if confined to a wheelchair. They have developed their upper body strength to compensate for their physical limitation. However, for Kathy, that is not the case. Schwannomatosis causes pain throughout the body, even at the simple touch of a hand. Additionally, as a consequence of the 22 surgeries to remove the many tumors Kathy became a quadriplegic. For Kathy pain throughout her body is one of the greatest challenges. Because the tumors are wrapped on her nerves, even the smallest impact to her body will cause pain. Nevertheless, through God’s grace, a strong heart, determination, love for life, hard work, and therapy, she went from quadriplegic to paraplegic. She regained most of the mobility of her upper body but has been paralyzed from the waist down since her last surgery in 2013.
God sends His greatest warriors to fight the greatest battles and Kathy is indeed a great warrior. She is relentless and refuses to roll over and play dead. In spite of it all, Kathy is an example of how to fight back. Life’s challenges make us strong and make us aware that we are so much more than our physical body. That within our heart we have so much more to give, with our minds we can achieve the unimaginable, and that in His trust and in His grace, nothing is impossible.
What she lacks in health she makes up for abundantly in generosity. Kathy founded NF (Neurofibromatosis) Fighters; a non-profit organization which purpose is to provide the necessary tools and equipment to facilitate mobility for people with debilitating conditions, that they may live their life with dignity.
Challenges in life are never without a purpose. She is now studying fashion design and although it has been a great struggle to keep up with school demands between treatments and hospital stays, she has begun to create a clothing line for people in wheelchairs. These garments will be ready-to-wear, practical, functional and beautiful at the same time that people can wear with pride.
We were not created alone and that’s because we cannot do it alone. Life is too hard and no one can endure or surpass the challenges without one another. It is for that very reason that I am coming to you to ask for help. Kathy needs every single one of us.
Kathy is undergoing Chemotherapy, an experimental treatment, and can now undergo intensive therapy for the hope of regaining some kind of mobility in her legs. To do that, she needs a reliable mode of transportation to go to and from therapy, as well as school and be able to manage NF Fighters projects and activities.
Let’s fight together as Kathy’s non-profit theme says. Yes, $50,000 is a lofty goal, among 1 or 2 or 20 of us, but it is nothing among hundreds and thousands of us. To that end, first, I ask for your daily prayers, second, I ask that you share and ask all of your friends and family to help her. Last but not least, I ask for your financial support. REACH DEEP INTO YOUR POCKET…REACH DEEPER WITHIN YOUR HEART. Within your pocket, you may find a couple of dollars, and a few old receipts… Reach DEEPER and help Kathy.
Although her condition has no cure, we can at least give her the hope for walking legs and a life not free of pain but free of some struggles, a life where her mind, body, and soul have the tools to cope with the challenges life has and will continue to have for Kathy.
Many blessings and thanks for joining the fight, LET’S FIGHT TOGETHER and give Kathy a chance to walk again!!!