What was going through your mind when you found out you had cancer?
My mind went into a million places at once, not knowing what to think or even what questions to ask. I had very little knowledge of what happens when one gets a cancer diagnosis. I knew that my cancer was in my skin, but I didn’t know if it would need to be treated the same way as other types and stages.
I wondered, “Will I need chemotherapy?” “What does this mean?” and “Will I die?” I started to cry and wondered if maybe I didn’t really need to be that scared. Would it be easily treatable? I was just really confused.
Were you angry at God?
When I heard my diagnoses I didn’t get mad at God. I figured “Well, a lot of people got cancer, and I just happen to be one of them.” I also was not sure if I believed in God at that time and didn’t think much about spiritual things.
Did you feel like you were losing control?
When I found out that I had 7 tumors in my neck, lung, and spine, I felt so discouraged. My cancer had returned so quickly. I had just finished radiation treatments two weeks earlier. I had been through 2 surgeries, lost half my ear, and had a month of radiation. I was back where I started.
My mom and sister drove up from NY to give me the news. They stood with me in my dorm and I looked out the window onto the Boston skyline.
I tried to imagine ways I might be able to heal, but every option I knew about ended in my untimely death. I felt helpless. Since conventional treatments hadn’t worked for me, I believed that maybe I had a shot to heal using alternative treatments.
As an athlete, did you feel like your identity was in your ability?
Much of my identity at that time was tied to my being an athlete.
The worst part about it was I had to make a heartbreaking decision to go to Mexico right before my team’s championship meet. I wanted desperately to travel with them and cheer them on, but I didn’t think it would’ve been wise to wait another week for treatment.
Jon Gordon, a motivational speaker, came to my school to speak to the athletes just as I was beginning my search for a cure. He called and encouraged me when I was at the Cancer Treatment Center of America in Tulsa.
I told him, “I don’t know what I believe about God, but I went to chapel and everyone was saying, ‘Praise Jesus, praise Jesus!’ I just don’t get it. Why would they do that if we’re all going to die anyway?
He admitted it was a hard question, but told me he believed in me and that I would get well. He urged me to trust God and keep praying for a miracle. Hearing him say he believed in me was so refreshing compared to what the doctors and statistics were saying. I thanked him for that. He was one of a few who I felt really believed that I would be ok and he gave me a boost of energy to keep pressing forward.
What would you say to a millennial who’s been diagnosed with cancer?
You don’t have to be afraid.
The first thing you should do is pray and ask God to guide you to the healing modalities that are right for you. After that, I would suggest searching for stories that are similar to yours. Here are some resources:
The way the Lord works is often a mystery and sometimes challenging to accept. In the end, nothing will change His faithfulness, love and mercy. His Word says this is true, and I am living proof.
In the end, no matter what happens or when we die, we get to meet Jesus and nothing could be better than that.
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