Thursday, October 9, 2014

Your life with cancer has purpose. Don't waste it!

I don't typically write posts that pertain to current events, or controversial topics. Although I do have strong feelings about things that take place, I feel like I often lack the experience to address them. 

There is one story this week that really hit home for me. I mean really close to home. That story is Brittany Maynard's story. Brittany is a 29 year old, beautiful woman who is terminally ill and has chosen to commit suicide on November 1st of this year. 
Brittany Maynard

I have never seen people come together and cheer someone on to end their life like people are doing for Brittany. The general response to someone attempting to end their life would be to pull them off the bridge, knock them out of the way of the car, flush the pills and do whatever necessary to stop them. It actually blows my mind that people are encouraging someone to end their life! Life, no matter how small, how old, how healthy or how sick is life. God-breathed, invaluable life. To end life, is to play God, and that's a dangerous role to try to step in and fill.

I realize I can't convince anyone to do anything, but if I could sit down and chat with Brittany, here's what I would say...

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Brittany,

I first watched your story after spending a few hours in the hospital with my own "Brittany". You see, I have a friend who, like you, recently found out that her cancer had passed the blood brain barrier. She was given the news that she not only has 4 tumors in her brain, but 14 cancerous tumors throughout her whole body.
Last week, 3 seizures caused by her brain tumors sent her to the hospital where she is being medicated to prevent future seizures and regulate her pain. 

All of this happened in just a matter of a weeks time, so you can see why your story captured my attention. 
  When I watched you sharing about why you've chosen to end your life rather than suffer, I understood why you wanted to end your life because I've been watching my friend wrestle with intense pain. Pain so bad that some days she can't even keep food in her stomach or even sleep.

Would it have been easier for my friend if she had chosen the same route as you are planning? Maybe. But she would have missed out on SO much, and robbed her friends and family of the joy that it is to care for her and bless her. She would have missed the pretty daisies in her room, the foot rubs, the deep and meaningful conversations that we may not have ever sat down to have otherwise, days of hugs from her mother, moments of holding hands with her hubby, and memories with her children. Even though she is in pain, she is still living. 

 In just the past week over 40 people have stopped by her room to see her. And I guarantee that every one of those people walked out of her room with a new perspective of their own life and a hope for eternity. You see, even in her pain, my friend is changing lives. 

Even though she has reached the point of pain and suffering that you are trying to avoid, I see more dignity and strength in her than I have ever seen in anyone. She hasn't given up. She is brave, and I bet if you give yourself the chance to face those final days, you will be surprised at the strength and peace God can give.

Maybe you are afraid of causing your friends and family more pain. I will be the first to admit that it's not easy to watch someone you love hurting. But I also wouldn't trade for anything those moments by my friend's bedside smiles, hugs, and conversations about hope and heaven. Seeing her smile in the midst of all her pain is something I will NEVER forget.

 You see, she is making a difference from her hospital room. She has changed my life by her courage, her faith and her ability to smile and have hope in the midst of the most difficult circumstances. 

Brittany, I'm praying that you find that hope.

Kara Tippetts, a terminal cancer patient herself made the following statement: 
Suffering is not the absence of goodness, it is not the absence of beauty, but perhaps it can be the place where true beauty can be known."

I can testify to the fact that my friend has never been more beautiful in her entire life. I pray, Brittany that you too will choose to fight, be courageous and show the world that life is sacred, not something to be discarded when suffering is around the corner. My friend is living proof that even suffering is not wasted. Please don't waste your last years, months, weeks or even days. Every moment here on earth has meaning, even the painful ones.

My heart hurts for you, Brittany. Up until recently, I never saw how evil cancer can be. It hurts not only the body it is inside of, but everyone around who is watching. I'm not saying it's easy, but I want you to know that your life is valuable and beautiful. Even your cancer is for a purpose. Please don't leave this earth until you know what that purpose is. I pray that one day I may meet you in heaven, but until that day, please know that you are loved, and prayed for by so many.

With all my heart,

Faith


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Colossians 3:17 
And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

7 comments:

  1. I struggled with reading this, on this topic, I will keep most of my opinions to myself, however, there is one point you mention that really struck me. you stated "She is brave." I assure you yes, your friend is brave. She is brave for fighting this awful disease. She is brave for mustering through the pain and heartache that cancer brings. But too so is Brittany. Brittany is brave for making the decision she has. She is brave for sharing her story (as I am sure there are many who take criticism to it). I believe Brittany is brave for deciding to end her pain and suffering. As as nurse, I only hope that one day there is death with dignity available to many of my patients. Everyday I see pain and suffering in people and my heart aches for them. There is only so much we can do as a health care team to lessen this pain.

    So, in all your words, I just struggle with you saying your friend is brave. Yes, I believe she is, but too so is Brittany. She deserves credit for her bravery too.

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    1. Thank you for your thoughts Alycia. My heart aches for Brittany as well as everyone else in her shoes. I can't imagine going through all that. However, I think if we are saying that Brittany is brave then we also have to say that people who commit suicide are brave if they are in physical or emotional pain. After all, they often end their lives because they are in pain or feel as though they are causing their friends and family pain. I think most people would agree that suicide is never ok. I don't think avoiding pain or even sparing your family from the pain and suffering is a good reason to end the life that God has given! But it is her choice to make, this post was simply to encourage her to think her decision through in a different light.

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  2. I'm just having a really hard time trying to figure out why people feel the need to make someone else's decisions. I appreciate your post and seeing your perspective, but I think she is doing a heroic act for her family. Rather than letting pain, depression, and whatever else might come take over her life, she will lay herself to rest. This will allow her friends and family to grieve with her and share all those same moments your friend did, just in a different light. That's just my two cents.

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    1. I fully agree with you here!!! I have a hard time with the words in this post!

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    2. I appreciate you sharing your thoughts Jenn! Just as Brittany was free to share why she was making the choice she has made, I have the freedom to urge her to rethink her decision through. Ultimately, I can't make her decision and she will stand before God for the choices she makes, not me!

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  3. I appreciate your thoughts here. Life--even the suffering, pain, and anguish that are part of it--is a precioius gift. My heart aches to think about what anyone with a terminal illness deals with. What a beautiful thing to know that God knows us each individually and is loving and merciful to all.

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    1. Absolutely, Kelly. It hurts me to think that we have reduced life to being worth living only if it is going to be perfect. It is amazing to watch my friend's peace as she trusts God to bring her through this trial He has allowed in her life! I know I will be much more sympathetic to those with terminal illnesses now that I have seen how hard it can be. Thank you for your encouragement, Kelly!

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