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Think of Illness as a Friend

I know what some of you might be thinking. Are you crazy????? Maybe I am. Maybe it’s my medication affecting my brain but what if there is something to this idea? I’ve spent the last seven years fighting the lung disease Cystic Fibrosis. I’ve had it all my life but just didn’t know it. As the years have gone by my health has progressively deteriorated despite all my efforts to maintain a healthy lifestyle and an optimistic attitude. Fighting illness has been exhausting so I decided I needed to find another way. Last year during my 10 week unplanned sabbatical on the couch with a virus I felt needed to change. A well meaning friend  once said to me maybe the reason I wasn’t getting any better was because I didn’t have the right mindset. At the time I was deeply offended, and didn’t want to have a bar of it but in hindsight I can see that maybe there was something to what he was saying. Now to take on a mindset of being positive 100% of the time when living with a chronic illness in my opinion is totally unrealistic. Sometimes it’s tough to feel positive, especially when in the middle of a health flare up facing some major challenges. In these circumstances I always allow myself to feel the negative emotions, but put a bit of a time frame on them so they don’t consume me. One of the best ways I’ve found to get myself back into a positive frame of mind is to give myself a perspective check. I simply think of someone else worse off than me and that snaps me out of a flat spot every time.


I arrived at this idea of thinking of  illness as a  friend after a  session with an awesome life coach. During the session the life coach asked me to think about the illness as something that entered my life to teach me something. What an interesting way of looking at it. I’ve often reflected on all the amazing lessons I’ve had over the years but hadn’t really viewed it in a positive light in relation to illness, probably because I was too busy battling the illness to really stop and think about it. If the truth be known my greatest lessons have come with my experience of illness and this is a huge positive. I think I am a better hopefully wiser person for having these life lessons. Like most people I’m still a work in progress and have a lot to learn.  So I’m going to go with this idea of illness not as my enemy but a friend here to teach me things  and see what happens. I’d much prefer a healthy friend to teach me lessons so this is something I plan to work on in my future life coaching sessions.

On another note, but still related, If you haven’t looked into the field of neuroplasticity i.e. the brains ability to use new environments and experiences to create structural changes I’d thoroughly recommend it. It’s mind boggling.


This article originally appeared on
Jane O’Brien is a registered exercise scientist with a passion for spreading the good health message. During her career that spans over a 20 year period she has worked as an exercise physiologist, corporate health consultant, massage therapist, freelance writer, fitness editor, corporate speaker, MC, childhood health & women’s health educator, radio presenter, lecturer, TV program researcher and producer of children’s health education DVD’s. During her career she has been nominated for a number of awards including the Leader Newspaper “Sports Star of the Year Award” for her contribution to “Services to Sport” and was runner up in the Australian Fitness Leader of the year Award.
Diagnosed back in 2009 with a lung condition and having to fight to regain her health, Jane is now even more passionate about spreading the good health message to the community. Her mission is to encourage people to become more proactive rather than reactive when it comes to their health.
Jane currently works as an advocate for the Cystic Fibrosis Community, freelance health reporter on radio and speaker.