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Women in the Valley

Women in the Valley: Katerina’s Story

Thank you, Katerina, for sharing your story with us!

Tell us about yourself!

Hi, I’m Katerina, and I live in Southern California. For the past few years, I have been a college student attending local community colleges. Currently, I’m getting ready to transfer to Hope International University in the fall, majoring in psychology, for God-willing a future as a Child Life Specialist. I’m also involved with a beautiful Christian dance studio where I continue to teach as well as choreograph dances. Other than my passion for dance, I enjoy writing, sign language, and creating artwork. 

My health journey started at the age of thirteen when I began struggling with severe fatigue. After doctor appointments, tests, and no clear answers, I lived without a diagnosis for several years. During my senior year of high school, I was then diagnosed with Charcot Marie Tooth disease (CMT) because of nerve pain and weakness in my feet. CMT is an inherited peripheral neuropathy that affects the nerves and results in muscle atrophy.

There have been many struggles because of the progression of pain, but I’m blessed that I am not going through this alone. Through the support and encouragement from family, friends, and other chronic illness warriors, I’m able to continue moving forward. 

What has God taught you in your valley of chronic illness?

God has taught me to rely on His strength and not on my own. During most days it’s a struggle to keep going because of the severe fatigue and pain. There are moments I’m unable to get out of bed or even stand for long periods of time due to the progression of my chronic illness. I’m learning to surrender everything and take one day at a time. There are many unknowns of what my future holds, but I’m reminded God already has plans for me. He knowns exactly what tomorrow or five years from now will look like. I just need to trust fully in His ways. 

I’m also learning to ask for help from family and friends. This could be as simple as a friend carrying a bag when my hands are hurting or helping me walk carefully to my car. In this season of my life I’m realizing that I’m not able to do everything on my own. God has reminded me of this beautiful community and the support I have with this chronic illness. 

What Scriptures have spoken to you in your times of need?

“But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

Isaiah 40:31

These words bring comfort to me almost like a blanket being wrapped around my shoulders. They remind me of the many seasons I have faced deep pain. Pain both emotional and physical. Where I would be crying because I felt that I couldn’t handle it anymore.

Then I would be reminded of the truth in this passage. It’s as if my Heavenly Father is whispering in my ear, “Child, remember in your weakness, I am strong.” While I’m not able to run physically, and there are struggles with walking, in my heart I am soaring because of God’s grace and provision in my life. This verse has continued to speak to me and is one that I send to others who are struggling with a chronic illness. 

What is the best part of your chronic illness?

The opportunities that God has led me to these past few years, from sharing my testimony to choreographing dances, and now writing in a blog to help those in suffering. Until this past year, I didn’t know that public speaking would be part of His purpose in my life. As a child, I was mostly quiet, and there was a fear of speaking in front of people. This changed when God placed it on my heart to share my story. In this last year, a door opened for me to share some of my testimony with suffering and pain through a video recording, and then more recently to the youth at my church. 

How would you encourage other women with chronic illness?

To remember the truth that God has a beautiful purpose for your life. This may not look exactly how you planned it to be, but look to our Heavenly Father for strength. Even in the deepest moments of pain, He is there with you. 

Friend, you are strong and brave to continue moving forward through the suffering you have faced. It may take time to understand why you are living with chronic pain, but through prayers, and waiting, God will reveal it to you. 

What resources have helped you?

  •  Listening to worship music
  • The Diamonds Slack community group
  • It’s Not Supposed To Be This Way by Lysa TerKeurst 
  • When God doesn’t Fix It by Laura Story

2 replies on “Women in the Valley: Katerina’s Story”

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