The assignment was to write a memoir on the most influential moment in your life. As simple as it sounds, for 16-year-old Kimberly Vieau, the task wasn’t that easy.
“We were supposed to pick a happy memory,” said Kimberly. “But I don’t have many happy memories from my childhood.”
Kimberly spoke with her English teacher at Concord Academy in Boyne City, Michigan. Together, they agreed that Kimberly would write about her personal battle with arthritis.
Kimberly’s parents first noticed problems when she was a baby. She had difficulty moving and couldn’t walk or sit up until she was almost 2-years-old. In school, she had trouble writing and participating in gym class activities.
“It was very difficult,” said Kimberly’s mom, Mary. “There were so many things she had trouble with and we didn’t have a diagnosis. She couldn’t keep up with her peers and would cry every night. We had no idea what was wrong with her.”
Since she was 6-months-old, Kimberly had been seeing doctors and getting physical therapy. But it wasn’t until she was 10-years-old that she was tested for arthritis. Her diagnosis was polyarticular juvenile rheumatoid arthritis.
In her memoir assignment, Kimberly wrote, “When I was a little girl, I hid in my closet just to escape the medicine that kept me up at night, sitting by the toilet and emptying the contents of my stomach. Even now the thought of that medicine makes my stomach ache.”
Most of Kimberly’s classmates already knew she had arthritis. “But they didn’t know how bad it can be,” said Kimberly. “They didn’t realize what you go through.”
Today, Kimberly is a high school junior with aspirations of owning her own publishing company. Her arthritis has progressed and spread throughout her body, most recently affecting two of her heart valves. But she refuses to let arthritis stop her.
“Even though arthritis is bad, you can get through it,” said Kimberly. “You have to focus on the positives and live your life to its fullest.”
By turning her pain into inspiration, Kimberly shows us what it truly means to be a Champion of Yes. As for her memoir assignment, to no one’s surprise, Kimberly received an A!