By YogaDork – This story of strength in the face of life’s obstacles has us in tears. Briana Donis was just getting ready to head off to college last year when she learned she had a life-threatening disease. Diagnosed with aplastic anemia, a rare condition where the body’s bone marrow stops producing enough blood cells, Donis immediately underwent treatment, including chemotherapy, radiation and lots of various medicines, as well as two bone marrow transplant surgeries – the first of which failed, and the second currently under observation.
The illness, which affects about 900 people in the US per year, came by surprise and changed her life. Donis first noticed unusual bruising on her leg which set off alarms that something wasn’t right.
“It didn’t hit me until I saw what I couldn’t do. What I was no longer able to do, be a normal kid, or go to the university I wanted to,” Donis said in an interview with ABC 13.
You never know what strong is until strong is your only option.
It’s been an incredibly tough year for the 19-year-old, who still manages to maintain an amazingly strong and poised point of view.
One year after her diagnosis, to the day, Donis shared a photo of herself, of her old self, saying: “This girl in this photo was the old Bri exactly one year ago, March 14th 2014, my diagnosis date. That girl is dead. She died that day and has turned into someone brand new and I’m here to officially put her to rest. She started this journey for me and I thank her for it and for leading me into the woman that I am today, but she no longer lives within me. She’s a stranger to me, so is my past.”
Besides being an awesomely strong and wise human being, part of what helped her get through it all, to let go and step into her new self, was her yoga practice.
For the past year, Donis has been doing yoga in the Texas Children’s Hospital, where she spends most of her time while undergoing treatment. Her immune system is so weak from the chemo that she has to wear a special mask to breathe through, her body is fatigued from the illness, and yet she’s been able to keep up her yoga and share photos of her practice almost every day on instagram. It’s not just about the physical poses, though.
“I like yoga because it challenges the inner me and the physical me,” she told BuzzFeed in March. “I started it because it was a challenge that I knew if I put my mind to it, I could do it. It wasn’t the kind of exercise I was used to. It was more personal. It was my own journey and not just a physical one.”
Now, instagram selfies have been under debate, but believe us when we tell you, dammit, we couldn’t be more proud of the insta yoga community for rallying around Donis and becoming an amazing support system of love and positive encouragement.
“The progress is what keeps me engaged,” she explained to Buzzfeed. “Keeping up with challenges and a yoga community in instagram holds me accountable and pushes me to keep trying everyday. There’s never any failure, only success in a journey with yoga.”
The strength that Donis has shown is truly an inspiration and we are humbled by her tenacious spirit.
“So whatever it is, your sickness, your problem, your insecurity, you are bigger than that. And you get to control your happiness despite your situation,” says Donis.
This article first appeared on YogaDork, a website offering commentary on the latest yoga news and culture with wit and wisdom, and is republished here with permission. Find them on twitter and facebook.