Seeing my daughter laugh again gives me hope for the future

Regaining a sense of humor is a positive sign after a difficult LEMS diagnosis

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by Lori Dunham |

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Some memories are so special that you know they’ll be held close to your heart for all time. For me, one of those memories was when we heard our daughter Grace laugh for the first time.

It happened the day after we met her in a government office in China, when she was just 13 months old. We were in the process of adopting her and were enjoying a late breakfast. Our son, Kyle, who was 8 at the time, flipped a spoon with a piece of cantaloupe on it, sending the orange projectile flying through the air.

Our little Grace closely tracked that piece of fruit with her eyes. When she saw it land on the floor next to her, she laughed from the depths of her belly. It was deep and loud and shook her from head to toe. The rest of us couldn’t help but laugh along with her.

As Grace grew, her laugh remained constant, and it was always bigger than she was. She loved to make others chuckle and was quick to tell a joke — until she was diagnosed with Lambert-Eaton myasthenic syndrome (LEMS) at age 15, that is.

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The power of hope

Everything changed with Grace’s diagnosis, particularly her mobility. She could no longer jump or run. She couldn’t climb the stairs to her second-floor bedroom. Her basketball team ended the season without her. Her joy seemed to vanish along with her childhood.

Before the diagnosis but while experiencing symptoms, Grace was in despair. She didn’t see the point in physical therapy, which was all anyone knew to do for her at the time. Her carefree childhood seemed to disappear overnight. She stopped telling jokes, and it’d be a long time before we heard her laugh again.

But gradually, Grace began to embrace life. As her body responded positively to medication and other treatments, her smile slowly returned. She started telling random jokes again. Her laughter was a welcome reprieve from the heaviness we’d all felt after her diagnosis.

Hope has a way of lifting the spirit out of the depths of depression, doesn’t it? Today, Grace, now 18, has hope for continued strength and stamina. She understands that she can do anything she wants in life. It may take her more time and effort than most, but she can accomplish almost anything her peers can.

I treasure the days when Grace is lighthearted, because she carries a heavy load. Laughter amid a chronic illness is a true gift. It brings such joy and relief to this mama’s heart and is a reminder that all will be well.

Note: Lambert-Eaton News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Lambert-Eaton News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Lambert-Eaton myasthenia syndrome.


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