Moms with chronic illness can find support from Kimberley Cashin's blog Mommy Isn't Feeling Well.

Chronic illness was not part of my vocabulary, or my life, until after I had children in my early thirties.

Now, I’d struggled with random bouts of physical issues my entire life, including blackouts, fatigue, double vision, joint and digestive problems and more. But I always seemed to be able to work around them in my youth.

Then, in my early twenties, after some doctors visits, I ended up getting diagnosed with a rare autoimmune and neuromuscular disease, resulting in surgery to remove what they thought to be a tumor and enlarged thymus gland. This happens to only 10 percent of people with this particular disease.

You can imagine how lucky I felt to be one of the 1 in 200,000 people to be diagnosed with this at the time, and at the ripe age of 24. To make matters worse, my tumor tested positive for something even more rare (1 in 6,000 chance), Castleman’s, a disease of the lymph nodes. My doctors promised my case would be submitted to a prominent medical journal that year. It’s safe to say that’s not your average life goal as a young woman trying to find her place in the world! 

Even after these health scares, the term “chronic illness” did not pop up in my mind. I had assumed after my diagnosis, and even surgery, my lifelong issues would eventually be resolved, and I would move on from seeing specialists. Wait for “remission” they said…

Following my doctors remission orders, I plowed through life, working, getting married and skiing the same slopes as my peers. I knew my struggles to take full breaths meant I was compensating physically for some of the same issues from childhood, but my doctors continued to say “remission.” 

It wasn’t until after having children that I maxed out. Back-to-back pregnancies sent my body into crisis, a flare and a need for a revisit to specialists to seek targeted treatment. This is when I began to look for information to support mothers struggling to balance their pressing health issues with the demands of raising young children.

To my surprise, there was nothing in the greater community (online or offline), to support mothers in this capacity. I came to realize that there was a gap in society and a HUGE lack of support for mothers struggling with chronic illness. I knew that motherhood was going to be challenging. I knew that sleep deprivation was going to be tiring. But nobody could have prepared me for the compounding affect of chronic illness on top of regular motherhood pandemonium. 

Which is why I decided to start Mommy Isn’t Feeling Well, an online blog and social media community. Since launching in 2016, I have organically gathered a community of women who wish to connect with each other regarding their day-to-day struggles. The women are from around the world, and their illnesses range from rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia, to cystic fibrosis and many more.

The moms are married, divorced and single, and all from different socio-economic backgrounds. But they all share the same commonality. Motherhood is hard enough for a healthy person, but even harder for a mother struggling with a chronic illness.

There is something so cathartic about sharing similar struggles, and understanding each other. My goal is to let these women know that they are not alone. And I will continue to strive to reach more women in society and share my story, in my hopes to empower and inspire others.

Edited by Kayla Caldwell

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