ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — Mary Catherine Derin had a medical emergency that left her legally blind, partially paralyzed and unable to work.

That did not stop Derin, however. In fact, it has increased her enthusiasm for life.

In 2017, she let her friends know she had suffered from a medical emergency.

“There was nothing good on TV, so I decided to have a brain surgery,” Derin said in a video to friends from her hospital room.

“By the time we got home from Mexico, I was paralyzed from the waist down and completely blind,” Derin said. “I didn’t know enough to be scared.”

After surgery at Johns Hopkins and months of rehab, Derin is still legally blind.

Hydrocephalus, Guillain Barre Syndrome, some of what Derin is living with. This is not a story about illness, however. It’s about attitude.

Mary Catherine Derin: “I’ve just been very fortunate.”

WJZ’s Denise Koch: “You think you’ve been very fortunate?”

Mary Catherine Derin: “Oh, gosh yes.”

WJZ’s Denise Koch: “You know a lot of people wouldn’t see it that way.”

Mary Catherine Derin: “Everything happens for a reason, and it happens to the person who’s gonna know what to do with it.”

Derin is certainly that person. Unable to continue as Executive Director of the Crofton Chamber of Commerce, she started a non-profit to promote small, local businesses.

She calls it Coffee and Cocktails with M.C. Derin holds networking events at small businesses.

Friday, Derin was with Maryland Therapeutic Riding.

“Life is so much better now,” Derin said. “It’s all in your mental state. If you let it scare you, then you’re going to be miserable, you’re going to be depressed. Life does not offer roadblocks, it offers detours. You can choose to feel sorry for yourself, or you can say, ‘Okay, what now?'”

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