Law Office of Kevin Jensen - March 2018

MARCH 2018 480.632.7373

Tragedy Doesn’t Define You How I Learned to Push Through Adversity

Working as a family and divorce lawyer, I see a variety of clients going through intensely difficult situations. For a few of them, it seems as if life as they know it is over. I sympathize with these clients deeply. I know it’s not easy for a loved one to leave your life or for a family to deal with a massive split. But I know from my own experiences that if we’re able to push past these seemingly impossible circumstances, contextualize them, and move on, we often end up stronger people for it. I was born with a congenital heart defect called “tetralogy of Fallot,” a fancy way of saying I have four heart malformations, one of which is a hole in my heart. I underwent four surgeries before I was even 6 years old, two of which were open- heart procedures. Because of this, I wasn’t able to do many of the things I wanted to growing up. For instance, I’ve always been a big sports fan, but I couldn’t play football or basketball because I was physically unable to exert myself for too long before my heart began to race and I felt dangerously short of breath. As a little kid, I always felt different. Why could all the other kids run without tiring while I couldn’t run 100 yards without almost collapsing? Why, of all people, had these heart problems stricken me ? Over time, probably in late high school, I began to feel that enough was enough. I was done feeling inadequate or handicapped. I realized that while I had been saddled with unusual

and unfortunate circumstances, they didn’t have to define who I was or stop me from being the person I wanted to be. I recontextualized my situation — I would no longer be a disabled kid with a heart defect. I was someone who just wouldn’t quit. After all, I was literally fighting for my life. I became determined to forge my own path and never let my heart problem beat me down. There were many times in my life where it would have been easy to throw my hands up and say, “This

isn’t worth it anymore.” But the drive and positivity I’d been forced to learn at such a young age carried me through even the darkest times. When my second-oldest son was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, it was hard to look on the bright side. He’d been given a life sentence of carefully checking what he ate and constantly pricking himself to see his insulin levels. At 12 years old, that’s a hard pill to swallow. But I sat him down and told him the same story I’m telling you about all the struggles I went through as a kid and how I had overcome them. While I’d give up my heart condition in a second if it was possible, I now understand that I’m a better person because of it. Within a year or two, my son began wearing his diabetes almost like a badge of honor. He can do most of what the other kids do, but he can do

it despite his health challenges. It’s inspiring to see his dauntless spirit. It’s a constant reminder that it’s okay to grieve and gripe and suffer when we receive some of the worst news of our

entire lives, but if we allow the sun to come up the next day, we might find a brighter morning than we ever could have imagined. -Kevin Jensen



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