LUNG FORCE Heroes
My name is Tia Gray. I was diagnosed with sarcoidosis in 1996. Sarcoidosis is a disease that can stop you suddenly and leave your life on pause, a disease that will bring several challenges which force you to pull from what gives you strength. My love of God and family are what gives me strength.
The days and weeks leading up to the discovery of my disease I felt very tired, I had shortness of breath, and I lost a significant amount of weight. In the beginning the doctors were a little confused and were very unsure of my diagnosis. The symptoms of sarcoidosis mimic a few other diseases and as a result a biopsy, blood tests and chest X-ray brought to light my diagnosis of sarcoidosis. I say "my disease" because it affects everyone differently. How you cope with your diagnosis and whether you allow it to consume you or not becomes part of your journey. My journey started with high dosages of major drugs, rendering me unable to do what I loved which was running and exercising.
The medications containing steroids brought on a state of depression for me accompanied with: weight gain, nervousness, sleepless nights, night sweats and jitters. I had no energy! The doctor that I consulted with initially did not understand my desire to avoid treatment with the medications that caused these detrimental side effects as well as my desire to learn and utilize lifestyle changes that would allow me to regain my vitality without any harmful side effects. My sister researched a doctor that seemed to value the same goals and ideals that I shared, and that doctor gave me my life back.
A doctor that was not afraid to try something different, thinking out of the box, was the vessel used by God to give me back my life. I researched and was shocked to discover the effects of certain foods and ingredients on the body. I changed. I removed the sugar, the meats, the dairy, and eggs from my diet. My doctor began to decrease the steroid dosage and my energy level slowly returned. Today I am drug free, I run half and full marathons I took that breath and one step towards several steps. I live by the mantra "One step, one mile, one breath with blessings in your journey, never give up!"
Please join me in two events -The American Lung Association-Fight for Air Climb on March 25 and the 1st Sarcoidosis Virtual Walk Run on April 22. We will raise money for research The Foundation for Sarcoidosis Research. Breathe!
First published: January 30, 2017
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Hero stories are the point of view of the Hero and not necessarily the American Lung Association. The Lung Association does not endorse any specific provider, facility or treatment.