In November 2001, I consulted a medical specialist to find out why I couldn’t shake my cough or climb a flight of stairs without getting winded.
Since I exercised regularly and had never been a smoker, I suspected nothing more serious than a sinus infection.
But medical tests yielded a devastating diagnosis. I had pulmonary fibrosis, a terminal illness that caused my lungs to work at less than fifty-percent capacity. The situation was so dire, I was told, that I would have to be on oxygen twenty-four hours a day for the rest of my life.
My initial reaction was one of disbelief. This couldn’t be true! For forty-nine years, I had been a faithful nun and a devoted teacher, toting a book bag bulging with corrected papers, tests, and lesson plans. In grade schools, high schools, and colleges, I had taught students from suburbia, the country, and the city. They meant the world to me, and teaching enriched my life. I had watched…
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