My Advice to Sarcoidosis Freshmen

My Advice to Sarcoidosis Freshmen

When I think of the nearly 20 million students projected to attend college this fall, what comes to mind are the freshmen stepping into uncharted territory. As my niece, Jocelyn, put it, “You go from being at the top of your game senior year of high school to being at the bottom and clueless again.”

Old comforts are left behind, and college freshmen, like those diagnosed with sarcoidosis, must start over and learn to navigate a new environment. Tips I’d offer college freshmen, should any of them want to listen to me drone on about life, are the same tips I would offer people recently diagnosed with sarcoidosis. 

Education is key

Soak up as much knowledge as you can. Don’t blindly accept the word of physicians when making decisions about your health and treatment. Get a variety of opinions and do your own research so you can make informed decisions.

Use credible medical sources, like BioNews Services, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration,, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, patient associations, nonprofits like the Foundation for Sarcoidosis Research, and research institutions like the Mayo Clinic and the Cleveland Clinic.

Additionally, PubMed Central offers a free archive of biomedical and life sciences journal literature, including sarcoidosis-related studies. For more help gathering information, read these great tips from the National Institute on Aging. 

Relationships come and go

There’s a popular saying: People come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime. Being diagnosed with a serious illness, such as sarcoidosis, will not only test your relationships but also accelerate the deterioration of those that were not meant to last. Hold on to those who uplift and support you through the good times and bad. Let go of the fair-weather friends, family, and acquaintances who are around when you are healthy but disappear when you are sick or in need. 

Bullies aren’t just in school

Develop a thick skin. Battling sarcoidosis requires hidden superpowers, like warding off insensitive comments from people who don’t believe your illness exists because they can’t see it. Attacks may come from physicians, family, friends, co-workers, acquaintances, and even strangers. If a physician dismisses your symptoms, find one who will listen. If friends and family needle you with negative comments about your health issues, eliminate them from your life. If you can’t avoid them, limit your contact because toxic emotions impact not only your sarcoidosis but your health overall. 

Don’t be crushed by setbacks

Sarcoidosis may knock you down at times. Pick yourself up and get back in the fight. Some days sarcoidosis rules my life. I’m unable to accomplish much of anything. Other days, sarcoidosis takes a backseat, allowing me to achieve more than I thought possible.

My niece recalled being overwhelmed, nervous, and filled with doubts during her early days of college. “But there were bright spots too,” she said. “I met one of my close friends in those first few days.”

A sarcoidosis diagnosis evokes similar emotions. Difficult days may or may not lie ahead depending on the path and progression of your disease. Much like my niece, finding the bright spots means traveling down your new path with hope and courage to see where it leads you.


Note: Sarcoidosis 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 Sarcoidosis News or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to sarcoidosis.

Athena Merritt was a journalist for 20 years until her prolonged battle with sarcoidosis forced her out of work. As she rebuilds her life, she hopes to bring humor, inspiration and knowledge to others in the process.
Athena Merritt was a journalist for 20 years until her prolonged battle with sarcoidosis forced her out of work. As she rebuilds her life, she hopes to bring humor, inspiration and knowledge to others in the process.

One comment

  1. Maxine m Headd says:

    I like this. My battle with sarcoidosis has devastated my life, but I still live with it. Now i am battling a more destructive enemy my heart has started to compete for attention as well. It is a much bigger call than sarcoidosis and the inflammations that come with it.

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