American actor-singer Sarah Hyland, who is suffering from a chronic illness, opened up about the life lessons she learned through her course of tough times.
"Everything happens for a reason," says Hyland, who was born with kidney dysplasia, a condition in which the kidneys don't fully develop in the womb. "[Struggles are] only going to make you a stronger and more efficient person."
The 29-year-old star underwent her first kidney transplant surgery in 2012, but she discovered four years later that the kidney was failing, reported PEOPLE.
"When I found out, there was a nice cocktail of guilt, fear and a kind of hopelessness. But also it was like, okay, this is now a part of your life," she told PEOPLE exclusively in this week's issue.
However, in order to prepare for her next transplant in 2017, she went on dialysis for almost a year and her co-stars were known to wear surgical masks to protect her fragile immune system.
Certain medicines led Hyland's face to swell, and bed rest meant significant weight loss, which prompted painful speculation and public criticism about her appearance. But ultimately, the surgery -- with a kidney donated by her brother -- was successful.
And in an unexpected twist, Hyland had her first date with her now-fiance, Wells Adams, just days before the surgery.
"I had all these health issues at the very beginning of our relationship and then I was on massive amounts of painkillers in the hospital FaceTiming him at all hours of the day and night," said Hyland. "He still liked me after that!"
The star is now happily planning her wedding and has decided to not dwell on her painful past.
"People who have chronic illness should take the time to say, 'This isn't fair,'" she opined.
She concluded, "Take a moment to cry and be like 'F you' to whoever did this to me. It's okay to feel angry, just don't let it be all-consuming."
( With inputs from ANI )