Last night, I was flipping through TV channels and came across an episode of “20/20” on ABC. In terms of journalism, this is one of the best shows on television, along with “Dateline” on NBC and CBS’ long-running “60 Minutes.”
This particular broadcast focused on the subject of progeria, an extremely rare disease that affects children. It involves rapid aging and most kids who are diagnosed with it rarely live to see their teenage years. Barbara Walters did an outstanding job of telling the stories of three young girls with progeria and how the disease has affected their families. She interviewed the girls, their parents, and a few doctors. One striking statistic that stood out is that there are only 16 documented cases of the disease in the United States. Even though it is clearly a condition most people don’t have to deal with, Walters and her producers made it seem important to the viewer.
Can you miagine being in the shoes of a child with progeria? Or a parent with this child? It is hard to even fathom how they must feel knowing their fate is closer than that of their parents. Their health is practically in greater jeopardy than that of most elderly people. One mother commented that she wakes up every day “wondering if this will be the day” she loses her daughter. Just think how difficult it would be having a child in this situation.
Watching this broadcast was somewhat disturbing, but it made me appreciate life more than ever. There are individuals living among us who are in more difficult positions than we will ever be ourselves. To me, these people should be rewarded. I’ve never really bought into the mindset that everyone should live life to the fullest and take risks, probably because I’m a little more cautious than most people. But now I can understand why people feel this way. Life is a precious thing that we should all, at the very least, cherish.