It was just before my eleventh birthday when I got the news that changed my life.
I had cancer.
I didn’t understand how this could happen to me… I had always been a healthy, carefree kid. My life consisted of homeschool, church, singing, acting, dancing, and hanging out with our family of 7. None of us could have seen this coming.
It started like this: One day, I noticed a pain in my right leg that seemed to come from nowhere. As the pain increased, I limped from the discomfort and my parents began to seek answers. Doctors told me that what I was experiencing was merely growing pains. But the pain only got worse as the months droned on.
It wasn’t until I finally got an MRI that showed a small mass just below my right knee that I was sent in for surgery where they did a biopsy of the mass. Finally, after excruciating days of waiting in the hospital for results, my family and I were told that I had Ewings Sarcoma. This is a rare bone cancer that usually occurs in children during their growth period.
Immediately, I was thrown into an intense regimen of chemotherapies, and surgeries that terrified me. The hospital became my home, and suddenly the world I had known didn’t look at all the same. I didn’t even look the same. I lost all of my hair from the chemo treatments and could only get around by crutches or a wheelchair. I distinctly remember looking in the mirror one day and being shocked by the reflection staring back at me. Who is that? I screamed inside. This frail person looked like a skeleton… a pale and bald one, emptied of any trace of the girl it once held.
The hardest part was that I didn’t understand why this was happening to me. In fact, I thought God was punishing me. I racked my brain day and night to try to figure out what I had done to make God so angry. But I couldn’t find an answer. I sobbed as I asked God why this had happened and what I had done to deserve this kind of pain. I didn’t realize that I was actually entering into an amazing journey that He had handpicked me for and placed me on. I didn’t realize that He intended to take my suffering and turn it into the greatest blessings in my life.
As time went on in my treatments, God used the prayers and encouragement from my family, church, and so many countless others to begin to open my eyes. I discovered that God wasn’t angry with me at all. In fact, He was carrying me through this entire circumstance. I was never alone – He was not going to let that happen.
One of the most incredible blessings that God brought about through my cancer, was the amazing opportunity to have a wish granted through the Make-A-Wish Foundation. My wish was to go to Nashville, TN and record a professional CD. In 2003, they fulfilled that wish, and it was completely life-changing. I like to call this my “wish that keeps on giving”, because it truly has never stopped. After my trip to Nashville, a domino effect of opportunities came flooding my way to sing and speak all over the country. A whole ministry opened up that I never could have imagined.
God not only healed me of cancer, but He awakened my soul. And for that, I wouldn’t trade a day of my pain. He opened my eyes to see the preciousness of life, and how we don’t know whether we even have tomorrow. He showed me that I have a purpose – each one of us do – and that I can’t waste my life.
And so, with every ounce of my being, I intend to live each day that I’m given for the purpose that He created me. It’s not enough to just be alive… we have to live.