by Nancy Tichy, Author for KidZ at Heart International
The event earlier this week was covered for the evening news by two local TV stations and a newspaper reporter. It was a warm, sunny afternoon at a high school stadium parking lot – the location for the presentation of a thousand colorful, origami cranes, strung up on hoops. They moved to the breeze – each paper bird fashioned by a fellow student who wished a sixteen year old junior well in her battle against a deadly cancer. A mobile blood bank van was parked nearby, medical technicians and nurses drawing blood from a steady stream of volunteers. Posters and banners, speeches and lots of hugs – all conveyed messages of love and hope.
The focus for all this was my granddaughter, Cassi, who has been afflicted by a terminal illness, Ewing’s sarcoma, the second most common cancer in teenagers. Its symptoms appeared in the spring of 2015, but they were misdiagnosed for months, giving the cancer free reign to spread its deadliness throughout her body.
I’ve been tempted to ask why during the months since September when doctors named her cancer and devised a rigorous treatment plan. Why would a physically fit teen contract such a debilitating, deadly disease? She was an athlete competing well on her high school tennis team and showing promise in the sport. What hope did we have for a complete cure with no worry that the cancer would reappear in years to come since this seemed so unlikely at the beginning? Why would two women, her mother and her elder sister, have to completely rearrange their lives in order to manage the logistics of hospital stays, multitudes of medical tests and procedures, and steady, treatment-filled home care?
I’m not sure God owes us answers to ‘why’ questions, so I don’t spend a great deal of time mulling these over in my mind. But I can admit to spending a great deal more time interceding for my granddaughter and those who most closely walk this journey with her. I spend time rejoicing in the many family members, dear friends, and even strangers who intercede for her. The outpouring of love and prayer on four continents (that we know of) is truly amazing. The outpouring of love on a sunny afternoon from hundreds of teenagers also reverberates with hope.
At eighty-four years I’m aware that it won’t be long before I’ll know all the answers to my heart’s questions when our loving, Heavenly Father reveals the details of his plan to bless and strengthen many by Cassi’s life. For now, I take it by faith as I walk my earthly journey convinced that ‘…the Father does all things well.’ Not one twinge of pain, not one worried focus of concern, not one anguished cry of fear or frustration escapes his notice.
I take it by faith that my family for generations to come will be enriched by this which many term tragic. I take it by faith that my granddaughter’s life makes a difference in our world – that all she is experiencing will one day shine with the glory of my loving Heavenly Father. I see glimmers of this already.
And I know that Cassi is not unique. Thousands of teens face challenges from cancer. None of them asked to play a role like this, the objects of tests and treatments, pain and suffering, scrutiny and procedures. I imagine, though, that most of them, like Cassi, learn to combat fear with hope, grow patient in their affliction and, even if not personally active in prayer become beneficiaries of those who are. One life multiplying God’s blessing into the lives of countless others – Heavenly math at work.
Romans 12:12 … joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.