Miroslava Duma has let her 1.6 million Instagram followers into a pretty major secret: she has been battling a rare lung disease. In a lengthy post on Sunday, she revealed that she was given just 7 months to live when she was diagnosed earlier this year.
“It was crazy scary then, but looking back, I realise that the past few months of recovery were possibly the happiest months of my entire life,” the fashion influencer and businesswoman wrote alongside a photograph of herself.
In the US, a rare disease is defined by the National Institutes of Health Office of Rare Diseases as one that affects fewer than 200,000 people; however, it is estimated that at least 1 to 2 million Americans suffer from rare lung diseases. It’s not clear what specific disease Duma has (or if she still has it), what treatment she has received, or when exactly she was diagnosed.
What is clear from her Instagram post is that the experience has been life-changing.
“I suddenly stopped running the marathon and realised how much I love life, how beautiful our world is and how much I want to stay here—with the people I love,” wrote the 34-year-old mom of three, who is married to fellow entrepreneur Aleksey Mikheev. “For the first time in my life, I saw the bright blue of skies. And the beautiful green of trees. As if I had lived on a different planet before. I wake up happy, just because I can spend one more day here.”
Duma went on to say that she has shifted her mentality and is no longer concerned about external validation. “My entire life I was seeking approval and obsessing over ‘likes’ both in physical and virtual worlds, without realising that I actually had to learn how to ‘like’ myself first,” she wrote. “Success to me today is not measured by external indicators anymore, but by what’s inside. It is measured by my own health, and the health of those I love.”
She believes her busy, high-pressure lifestyle was partly to blame for her poor health. “Years of self-criticism and doubt, stress, dieting, physically, mentally and emotionally pushing and pushing myself got my immune system to collapse and I had made myself fatally sick,” she shared. “I now realise that these past months were almost the most creative months of my entire 34 years."
She finished the post by thanking the “wonderful people” in her life, adding, “I love you with all of my heart (and my lungs).”
Duma was a regular on the fashion scene in the early 2000s, regularly photographed at New York and Paris Fashion Weeks. She served as project director at Harper’s Bazaar and has also freelanced for the Russian editions of Vogue, Forbes Woman and Glamour.
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