BARNEGAT, NJ - Barnegat resident Tony Lombardo is a great inspiration for hundreds if not thousands of people.  At TAPinto Stafford-LBI and TAPinto Barnegat-Waretown, Tony is a regular columnist for us sharing his many inspiring life stories through his column "Let's Hear Your Story."

Our readers are welcome to enjoy Tony's personal testimony below and also a wonderful video produced by Aleteia EN.

You Are Not Your Illness. These Words Gave Me The Strength Not To Kill Myself by Tony Lombardo

It was Summer 1980. I woke up seeing double. As time went on, I began to lose control of my left hand, my arm, and then my left leg.

After seven years of going on my “Medical Odyssey” (going from doctor to doctor without a diagnosis), I was finally diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) in January 1987.

After realizing there is no known cure, an “emotional abyss” opened up in front of me. I fell into a depression and made two attempts on my life.

When I hit “rock bottom,” I had the privilege of speaking to a man who did two tours with the Marines in Vietnam.

He told me, “Anyone who will judge you as a person based upon the fact that you get around in a walker is not a good judge of personality. You are still a person. You are still a human being.”

At that moment, I saw the value in my life. My value didn’t depend on my ability to walk. I said to myself, “I’m still a husband, I’m still a father, I still have friends.” I had a new start in life. I made peace with God and with everyone around me. I realized that this is where God wants me to be. I understood that by means of my fight against MS, I could help many people rediscover hope, and Pay It Forward, or as I like to say...PIF.

“I’m not a miracle. The miracle is everyone around me.”