Dear (insert your name),
Welcome to the family. A family you surely would give anything to not be a part of. If you’re reading this, you most likely just found out some extremely difficult news or you know someone who did. The world is not ending, but it may feel that way. Trust me, your world is far from ending. You have been called by a higher power. You have been instructed to a duty that will shake you to your core. Know that by the end of all of this you will not be the person you were yesterday, last week, or last year.
Whether or not you believe in a God or The God in my opinion, it is my understanding that He will have a hand in every single second of this next journey. To be honest, it was not until my Cancer Day that I came to know the Lord in ways that I never could have imagined.
Fall on your knees and scream. Scream at yourself in the mirror, scream at God, scream at your circumstances, scream at your body. You have an enormous right to be completely confused. This is not fair. It will never be fair. No one should ever have to walk this path but like I said before, this is a time of revival and strength. The day that I was diagnosed I had no earthly idea what was to come. Emphasis on the word ‘earthly’. The Lord’s heavenly plan was greater and I was simply getting a small sip of what was to come. Looking back, there should have never been a question in my mind of the faithfulness that would play out through my life.
In the sense of family and community: you need these things. Let your parents ask you how you are…and answer them with a little less sass than you did yesterday. Let your friends sit with you as you hash through these latest results. They might tell you that they want to dye their hair or shave their heads 4 months before your senior prom…please convince them otherwise. Please remember this next part, and apply it to all of your conversations from here on out. “People say stupid things.” Take that statement as you want, but I have applied to more conversations since the day of my diagnosis than I can count on my hands. People mean well, but they often have a skewed view of this disease in general. They may say something that sounds insensitive and inconsiderate, give them grace and move on. They simply don’t know any better and it’s impossible for them to put themselves in your shoes.
The hair: on top of all the difficult things to come, you are about to learn an extremely important lesson on image. For me, my hair was a large part of the reason I found myself beautiful in the outward sense. I will never forget the day that I shaved my head for the first time. A few days after I stared at myself in the mirror and lost it. I mean tears streaming down my face, head fallen in discomfort, white knuckle on the bathroom counter kind of anger. I thought to myself, how could a God who loved me so much possibly think it was ever a good idea to do ALL of this to me. How dare he, honestly.
When I snapped back into reality (not sure whether or not this took 2 days or 2 years) but I come to learn that I AM NOT IN CONTROL. I am not afraid of the story and I am not afraid of the pages to come. I would live the last 2 years again in a heartbeat if it meant that I would end up in this state of utter surrender and understanding of the Lord’s protective power in my life.
Why does something like this disease even exist? I asked myself this question frequently in the first months of my treatment and I continue to ask it, today. I’m not sure that I’ve ever come to a complete conclusion on my answer. What I can say is, we deserve nothing. Our sins were forgiven and all God asked was that we come and be with Him through a relationship with him. I have come to know through my experience that the world is broken. And to add to that, cancer is a broken thing. We are not promised a beautiful and easy life just because we are believers. If anything, through surrender, we have accepted the challenge. We have joined the group chat with God. We have asked to be included from here on out on all of the sadness and distraught things of the Earth for a purpose.
I know the reason that I had cancer. You, (insert your name here), may never know the reason you have become close friends with this disease. I had cancer because I was called to be loud. I had cancer because of the girls to come after me. I had cancer because of the art of surrender. I had cancer because of porch conversations contemplating life and the loss of a mother. I had cancer to trust in something other than myself. I had cancer to gain a new perspective. I had cancer so that I could write this letter to you. & for me, that last sentence is more than enough reason to have battled this disease.
I am in this fight with you. He is not finished with you.
Author: Rylie York