Last year, the epiphany came. Last year, as I started to read more about childhood cancer and the devastation it brings, I realized I had to do something. If I just continued to sit on my hands, I’d never be able to justify it at the end of my life. I’d never be able to explain to God why I did nothing. I’d never be able to forgive myself either. I know these things take time. Nothing that ever means anything changes over night, unless it is life and death. One minute, a baby can be born, and a little while later, that baby can be diagnosed with cancer. It’s every parent’s worse nightmare. Every single day, 46 parents hear those words, “Your child has cancer.” Every single day, 7 more families say goodbye much too soon.
I have clarity now. I know what I need to do and I thank God that I can do it. It’s something – no matter how long it takes to come to fruition. My energy comes and goes, but the strength of my conviction never fades. The future lies ahead. I think I always knew what my role in life was. I’ve always been drawn to cancer stories, both in real life and in fiction. I bawled my head off watching movies like “The Ultimate Gift” and “My Sister’s Keeper.” The first movie I remember crying during was “A Walk to Remember.” In school, I knew kids who had cancer. Just two, but they were there all the same. Emily. Andy. Both of them. Gone. And still, I stayed away from delving into the statistics… until last year. Last year, everything changed for me. Everything.
I finally understood in a way I could not before. I know why I survived, or at least I know more than I did before. I will never know what my life would have been like if I wasn’t disabled, but maybe, just maybe, that is a good thing. If things were different for me, I would be oblivious, like most people. I don’t remember anything from having cancer. I don’t. But I will always have the scar on my stomach as proof. It happened.
Now that the old ache is gone, a new one has replaced it. Whereas I was floundering before, now I am not. I am focused, but still I struggle. I struggle with my emotions, which always get in the way. I follow a lot of kids’ cancer journeys on Facebook (I hate that phrase – “cancer journey”). It’s a roller coaster, really. There’s no other way to describe it. I can be happy that one child is doing well, having achieved remission or getting there, and the next minute, I can be filled with despair because another child is not doing well. I am so aware now of childhood cancer. There’s no going back. And even if I could go back, I wouldn’t, because it would mean that the clarity I’ve been given would be erased.
When my fuel runs out, all I have to do is read about a child fighting for his or her life, and it flares right back up again. Should I be thankful for that? No. I’ll never be grateful for suffering, mine or other people’s. Never ever. I’ve been through too much and seen too much for that. But suffering brings about change. Eventually. You can make something positive out of something negative. Always. Sometimes you have to really search, but it’s there. Persistence pays off in the end. You can trust me on that. It is how I got to where I am now. Persistence. Diligence. Faith. Committing myself over and over to the same thing. I can choose to look the other way, but I wouldn’t be able to live with myself. This is what my life is about, in the end. It’s not about me. It’s about listening to that still, small voice inside. I’ve learned to be quiet so I can listen. I got to keep moving, keep writing, keep being a voice for those who can’t speak for themselves. I have no choice – I have to keep going. I have to be strong. It will be unbelievably difficult sometimes. But I know I am not alone… I am never alone. God is with me all the way. It took a lot to get to this point in my life, and it will take a lot to get through the next part, but I know what I have to do, no question.