Guest Column: Don’t judge your neighbor from the outside

Nancy Burns and her husband

Hi neighbors. In no way do I want this to come across as some narcissistic ploy to talk about myself. However, sometimes I wonder about my neighbors and so I figured I’d share a little bit of my story.
I’ve been married for 24 years to my high school sweetheart (Santa Clara High), we had our daughter Chelsea at only 20 years old. It was a huge struggle as we were so young and didn’t have a lot of money. We lived and worked in Santa Clara until Chelsea was 5, when we decided to move to Gilroy as rent was less expensive.
We lived in the duplexes on Wren/Kern for 10 years. Chelsea, went to Rod Kelley, South Valley and Gilroy High. We bought our first house eight years ago. We were so excited and thrilled to be homeowners. My husband started at the bottom of his company at 18 and now 24 years later holds a prestigious executive position. His hard work finally paid off and we were finally able to breath a bit.
I was a stay-at-home mom who worked in almost all of our daughters classrooms, went on field trips, etc. I stayed home with her until she was about a junior in high school and then I studied fitness and nutrition and started working as a freelance personal trainer. I loved it! I was feeling great and loving fitness so much that I was looking into the fitness competition world as something I was interested in pursuing, until I became very, very ill.
It was about four years ago, out of nowhere. I became very sick. I weighed merely 84 pounds and pretty much my internal organs were shutting down one by one. I was tossed around to so many doctors and specialists to find out what the heck was happening! So many tests, vials upon vials of bloodwork and X-rays. So, so many. My bloodwork was coming back abnormal yet they couldn’t figure out why. In the meantime, I was unable to walk. My legs and feet were going numb, my feet had pins and needle pain times a thousand. My poor husband had to literally carry me up and down our beautiful new two-story home and even had to carry me to and from the bathroom as even those short amount of steps were impossible.
One of the specialists finally said to me, “Nancy, you are dying. Your body has turned against you and it’s eating it’s way through your organs!” She started me on chemotherapy immediately, six months of it. I couldn’t drive my car so my parents, bless them, sold their house in Santa Clara to come help and be closer to their dying daughter. It would take over a year for me to finally get behind the wheel of my car.
So many different medical terms and all of these doctors couldn’t agree on a name for what I have. Some decided that I have a combination of several different autoimmune diseases but still till this day cannot come up with the source. I am unfortunately, still undiagnosed.
The head of the neurological department at Stanford University says this disease I have will never get better is a progressive neuropathy that I will have the rest of my life. It attacks my lower extremities and leaves me unable to walk or stand at times. It causes me to sometimes be wheelchair bound so I make my own wheelchair pretty so at least I don’t hate to get in it! Unfortunately, chemotherapy treatment is the only thing that really slows it down. I had had three rounds and a fourth round will begin in November.
People who meet me say that by my outer appearance they cannot tell that I am sick. That is because my illness ravages from within. I always try to look nice on the outside so I don’t have to match my inside.
I love God so much and I know He has a plan for me. I love to be around lots of family and friends. It’s when I can be most distracted from my illness. On the bright side, we’re awaiting our first grandchild and you can bet that I will fight tooth and nail, with all of my might, to make sure I can stand tall with all of my strength to hold her, play with her, and most importantly for me, walk with her through her precious life.