Lexi Baskin, a college student diagnosed with cancer, parked her car in the handicapped space outside her school’s library — a routine she’d had for months. When she returned, she found her car plastered with messages that read “shame on you” and “not really handicapped, just lazy.”
Baskin experiences fatigue and dizziness as side effects of radiation treatment. Her doctors issued her disability placards so that she wouldn’t have to walk long distances. But her legally obtained parking permits did nothing to deter her critics.
“We have seen you and your friend come and go,” the vandals wrote, “and there is nothing handicapped about either of you. Your tag must be borrowed or fake.”
Of course, it’s really not cool to park in a handicap-accessible space if you are healthy. But Baskin’s experience is a reminder that it is never okay to make assumptions about someone’s health based on their appearance. Invisible illnesses are real and pervasive, and it’s impossible to know what someone is going through just by looking at them. And after seeing others’ reactions to her posts, Baskin knows she’s not alone in this experience.
“I didn’t expect the amount of people who have also gone through the same thing,” Baskin told Lexington, Kentucky news channel Lex 18. “It kind of breaks my heart for them to know that there are people who are sicker than I am who are also getting ridiculed.”
The moral of the story? Only doctors can determine someone’s health. Even someone who doesn’t “look” sick could be facing serious challenges in health and in life.