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  1. The strongest person I know cannot peel a potato, has trouble putting on her makeup, and uses a special key holder to turn the key in her car’s ignition.
  2. For the past fifteen years, my aunt Sue has been living with rheumatoid arthritis, a painfully debilitating disease in which the joints of the body become intensely inflamed due to the immune system’s activity.
  3. Despite the daily torments of this disease, my aunt Sue is stronger than any woman or man I have ever met.


  1. Aunt Sue endures almost constant pain, but she refuses to complain about her fate.
    1. Not a moment passes that she is not confronted with this demon of a disease.
      1. It hurts her to stand, it hurts to walk, it hurts to sit.
      2. After many failed medications, she is now undergoing weekly oral chemotherapy.
      3. After half a dozen surgeries, her frail body is in need of still more.
    2. Yet despite all this, I can’t recall hearing her complain about her fate.
      1. She devotes much of her time to those less fortunate than her.
      2. This past Thanksgiving, for example, she helped organize a dinner for more than 500 poor and homeless people.
  2. (TRANSITION: Aunt Sue is a determined, warmhearted, generous woman, but there is something else that makes me admire her so.)

  3. Aunt Sue manages to keep her sense of humor despite all the pain she must bear.
    1. At five feet two inches, and 105 pounds, with the spunk of a teenager, she introduces herself as “Crazy Sue.”
      1. Somehow she is able to approach her disease with a sense of humor.
      2. In fact, she is one of the funniest people I know.
    2. When the disease began to hit her really hard, she told one of the attorneys at her law firm that she was limping because she fell off a trapeze performing her weekend hobby—and he believed her!
    3. Eventually her ankle became deformed and the arch of her foot completely collapsed.
      1. Most people would wallow in their misery.
      2. Aunt Sue just calls it her “cartoon foot.”
  4. I hope aunt Sue knows how much I admire her.
    1. I complain about trudging through the snow to class, but I’m walking pain free.
    2. I complain about driving my friends around town, but I’m steering the wheel pain free.
    3. I complain about the final exams I’ll have to write, but I have the mobility in my wrist to write pain free.
    4. I have learned from my aunt Sue that I need to do a better job being happy for the things that I have, rather than worrying about the not-so-perfect things.
  1. Aunt Sue may call herself crazy, but I call her phenomenal.
  2. She is a joy to be around and a reminder that having a physical disability in no way diminishes a person’s spirit or inner beauty.