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No Matter the Obstacle

June 2006

When I learned that my mother (Sylvia Britt-Raven, WORLD Peer Advocate) was diagnosed with HIV, I was devastated. My father had just died tragically a month before. I thought that I would have to live without both of my parents and I wasn't even 19. When my mother told me, I immediately thought of death. I didn't know much about HIV, just the basics. At the time I was in a very draining relationship and to top it all off, I was pregnant. I thought my daughter would never know her grandparents. The support and unchanging love that comes from your mother, I would no longer have.

Before her diagnosis, my mother spent years trying to overcome her addiction to crack-cocaine. At the time, I pondered suicide because I was mad at her for choosing drugs over me and my sister. Finally, around my freshman year in high school, she reclaimed custody of us. Again, we were a family. It was almost as if she never left us. Our relationship continued to grow and I fell in love with her for being so strong and never giving up. She overcame an addiction and then she was blind-sided by the diagnosis. I had so many mixed feelings. I immediately blamed God, like many people do. I asked why God would build her up and deliver her from the disease of addiction and then afflict her with another disease.

While she was in a substance abuse rehabilitation facility, my mother told my sister and me that she had a disease. Back then, I thought she meant she had AIDS or HIV. She revealed to us that her disease was her addiction. From then on, I believe her statement helped me realize how powerful addiction can be. It wasn't that she didn't care about us and drugs were more important, it was a disease that she had to overcome. I've come to realize that my mother can rise above any obstacle including HIV. Her determination and power is beyond measure. She defines what a mother's role is. I don't feel like her disease is life-threatening anymore and I don't let the thought consume my mind. I watch my mother inspire, motivate and build the spirits of other women living with HIV. If she can do it, so can I. I make sure my friends get tested and I educate them on this epidemic so they can protect themselves and others. I feel that is the best way to prevent the spread of HIV. When I tell my friends that 6,000 people between the ages of 15-24 are diagnosed daily (Avert.org), the majority look like them, and some of the highest cases are in the same state that they live, California, they instantly change their perspective about this epidemic and tell others. Today, I feel wonderful, knowing that no matter what the obstacle is, we'll get through it. My mother and I have a special relationship. I'm glad that she gained control of her life and simultaneously saved me from my own self-destruction. We go to church together, and we're raising my daughter together, which I was afraid wouldn't happen. Most of all, we're a support system for each other. Being diagnosed is not a death sentence, that's when life truly begins ... and more abundantly.

Back to June 2006 Table of Contents.




  
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This article was provided by Women Organized to Respond to Life-Threatening Diseases. It is a part of the publication WORLD Newsletter. Visit WORLD's website to find out more about their activities and publications.
 

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