Karen Duffy Shares Her Experiences With Chronic Illness

Karen Duffy lives by the motto: “If you make beautiful choices, you will live a beautiful life.”

A rare form of sarcoidosis, called neurosarcoidosis, struck the former MTV VJ and Model Patient author in 1995.

Since then, she has lived with chronic pain – but is no less active. &

Her book, “Wise Up Irreverent Enlightenment” from a Mother Who’s Been Through It, is a series of letters to her son Jack, whom she shares with her husband, John Lambros.

Karen Duffy says, “I wrote each chapter as a letter because I wanted the reader to feel loved truly. To create this feel, I wanted a radiant, incandescent vibe, so I thought by writing letters, it would be more intimate for readers to take in information.”

Despite Wise Up’s intimacy – which draws on pop culture icons and philosophers – Duffy wanted the book to not sound like “performative parenting.”

She explains, “I thought it was essential to show my son that, no, there’s a lot of jackassery that got me here. There’s a lot of wisdom in screwing up.”

Duffy can still squeeze the most out of life despite living with chronic illness – even when living with sarcoidosis feels like carrying a refrigerator all day.

She explains, “There is a lot of shame and embarrassment connected to chronic illness, chronic pain. I was ashamed I was a burden on my family. That I was in the hospital all the time.”

Duffy acknowledges that chronic pain can seem like a punishment but says chronic pain can coexist with happiness.

She says, “Chronic pain will not steal my joy. I believe that pain is inevitable.”

Duffy says that sarcoidosis is “no beauty treatment,” but it can be hard to navigate intimacy when “your body starts malfunctioning.” &

She says, “Your body starts falling apart and betraying you. When you are the sick partner in the relationship, your partner can be afraid of hurting you and can be afraid of touching you.”

Despite her chronic illness and pain, Duffy is unapologetic about it.

Duffy explains, “I understand that this is not a flaw. These things happen. I’m not damaged goods.”