BARNEGAT - 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 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 that 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.”