Reader Stories, Society

The “Gift” of Illness

Although migraine and cancer are very different, there’s a common thread in the idea of envisioning illness as a “gift” — an opportunity for personal growth or recognizing our blessings or making us a stronger. Is Cancer a Gift? reflects on this mischaracterization of illness.

Yes, illness can make us aware of the goodness in our lives and highlight all we have to be grateful for, but any hardship in life can have the same result. Putting a happy face on a life-threatening disease like cancer or a life-altering one like migraine sidesteps the harsh realities of illness and minimizes the tremendous grief and loss a patient endures.

These words of Lisa Bonchek Adams are particularly poignant:

“A gift is something you want to share.

“Something you want to give to someone else.

“Something [about which] you say ‘Next time I need to give a special gift to show someone I care, this is what I want to give.’

“Cancer is not that thing.”

Neither is migraine. I would happily trade all the insights I have gained from chronic migraine for living with the blissful ignorance of a healthy 20- and 30-something.