Cancer. It's the word so commonly heard nowadays, yet a word so difficult to hear — especially when someone close to you is affected. But do you want to know what's more painful for me to hear? When an innocent child has to endure and suffer with cancer. There is nothing more heartbreaking to me than seeing someone so young, in so much pain. I am a compensated ambassador for the Light the Night campaign. All opinions expressed here are my own.
This really strikes a chord with my heart, because in the last week our closest friend's daughter passed away from cancer. She was only fourteen. The day she passed away was a day of mourning because she was gone and a day of joy because she was free from pain and suffering. I couldn't imagine what my girlfriend was going through, and all I could think about was how strong she was being for the family, yet I couldn't do it. I couldn't be as strong. Her daughter was such a beautiful soul who loved art, God and singing worship songs. She had such a big heart and I can honestly say she accomplished more during her time here on earth than many adults today.
I came out of the situation inspired, encouraged, motivated, and with a fresh new perspective. Although we could never understand the why when it comes to these types of situations, I focused my eyes on the lessons I took away from it.
Here are the three lessons I learned watching my best friend care for her cancer-stricken daughter:
Life does not stand still. Don't procrastinate and wait to do whatever project, task, or assignment that you are called to do, because tomorrow may never come. My best friend's daughter made every moment left of her life count, because she knew tomorrow may never come. She fought the good fight, encouraged and inspired many, and at the end of her life finished the things she was set out to finish. We will never have enough time in a day, and we need to realize that. We can't do it all in one day, so take care of your priorities first.
“If not now…when?”
Don't lose sight of what really matters most. Watching my best friend care for her daughter night and day was the most inspiring thing I've ever seen. She gave up a lot of things that seemed important to others (like her job), because she knew her priority was her family. And she didn't compromise. As a mother of four with a career, this ever growing blog, and my role in the ministry – I wept. I wept because I realized I had lost sight of why I was doing the oh-so-important things I was doing. I was wrong about all those things, and I knew it was time to shift my focus back onto the right path of what really matters most.
Step out in strong faith, even when what you are seeing seems impossible. This was the most important lesson I learned, because I thought I knew what faith was. But it wasn't until I witnessed a Mother who had a child dying of cancer that I learned what STRONG FAITH was. Strong faith is proclaiming healing even when the doctors say there's no hope. Strong faith is believing that your child is well and enjoying life even when she looked frail and weak on her deathbed. Strong faith is praying fervently for miracles when your daughter is in a hospice given only a few more days to live. Strong faith can move mountains.
My best friend has strong faith, and we all witnessed those miracles when her daughter was given an extra five months of life to enjoy. We witnessed the hospice releasing her to go home, because she was getting better. We witnessed her presence at gatherings and playing games with other kids. We witnessed her going from being bedridden to walking, boating, tubing, dancing, and playing. It was the most amazing five months I've witnessed in one little person's life. She was given more time because of her and Mother's strong faith, and it was a blessing.
This fall, let’s walk to the end of cancer by joining The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s (LLS) Light The Night Walk fundraising campaign, which brings together families and communities to honor blood cancer survivors, as well as those lost to the diseases, and to shine a light on finding cures and providing access to treatments for blood cancer patients.
One group that deserves our attention is children with cancer. Leukemia is the most common cancer in children and adolescents less than 20 years old. While extraordinary progress has been made in blood cancer treatments, thejourney back to a healthy life can be a long one. For these kids, returning to school means additional challenges, from maintaining friendships to keeping up with schoolwork.
You can make an impact.
This year, Sylvan Learning is partnering with LLS through Light The Night, with a commitment to raise $250,000 and to donate more than 12,000 hours of free tutoring services in nearly 200 communities nationwide to help young blood cancer patients and their families with the transition back to school. Here’s how you can help:
There are nearly 200 Light the Night walks nationwide this fall. It’s easy to walk by registering and joining a team.
Find a walk in your area, and join a Sylvan Learning walk team in supporting this great cause.
I’m going to join Light the Night with my family. Won’t you join us? Let’s all walk to the end of cancer and, at the same time, you can help kids get back into the swing of school, often while they are still undergoing treatment.
Disclosure: I am a compensated ambassador for the Light the Night campaign. All opinions expressed here are my own.