The story of Maria
My name is Maria Teniente. At 58 years old, I was living my dream life. I was retired from education after 28 yrs of service and I had became the National Director of Training and Development for a national reading company. I was also a Nana to three (soon four) beautiful grandchildren. Often, while flying across the nation to present , I would meditate while looking out the airplane window and ask, “Lord, how did I get so lucky?—Why me, Lord?” The answer to that question would soon come like an unexpected, cruel dagger in my oblivious heart. On April 1, 2013 , I was diagnosed with a very rare lung disease called Lymphangioleiomyomatosis—LAM, for short. LAM disease affects mostly women and begins during their child-bearing years. There are only about 3000 confirmed cases of LAM, worldwide. This unexpected LAM diagnosis explained so much. I had always had trouble climbing a few stairs without getting short of breath and I had also wondered why I couldn’t dance a full song. Dancing lives in my soul. I miss dancing like a long, lost friend.
Within the past two years, I went from living a dream life and working at 100 mph to living a life of endless health nightmares. I have lost half my right lung and have had to give up my life dream position of educating teachers, nationwide. The nightmare continues with each death of another LAM sister, many at a very young age. After hearing of another LAM related death or serious LAM related health issues, one can’t help but feel “It’s coming to get me soon!”.
The truth is, LAM is a progressive disease, with no cure, as of yet. So, even when I try to “stay strong” and focus on creating life-long memories for my grandkids, the nightmare continues. You see, progressive means it’s not going to stop! This week, I was told my left kidney needs to be completely removed. Yes, this is also LAM related.
Now, to answer the question from the beginning of my story… “Why me, Lord?”. I truly believe that the Lord has meticulously been shaping, sharpening and nurturing my skills as National Presenter and Trainer of Teachers to prepare me for this very moment. I am profoundly touched by each of my LAM sisters’ journey and vow to use my God-given skills to educate the public about LAM and to lobby to FIND A CURE for this horrid lung disease. Please join us on our mission to end this nightmare!