However, because of my son, I tend to connect much faster with the teenagers. As I have watched and learned from them, I have been amazed at their unique attitude toward their situation.
These adolescents bring a very special perspective on life. More so than their younger counter parts, they have a full adult understanding of their life and death struggle. But unlike their older counterparts, they have not yet fully experienced life. They are full of dreams of the future, real dreams about what they will accomplish, who they will love, and the life they will live. They are just beginning to visualize it all, seeing everything just beyond their reach. And then cancer comes, attempting to destroy all those hopes and dreams before they can ever be realized.
It is from this unique perspective that these young people fight for their lives. And as they fight, they share the most incredible insights on life itself. It is an amazing experience to talk to someone who has a beautiful and untarnished view of the opportunities in this life, along with a knowledge that they may never partake in those opportunities. Someone who knows of love, while knowing they may never experience love, marriage, or children. Someone with glorious dreams, knowing those dreams may never be experienced.
It is amazing to hear their thoughts. Miles Levin described dying as a teenager as a blessed curse. A special opportunity to see things in a new light. They have so much to teach us. These young people are actually us, in our purest form, before we were tarnished by the distractions in life.
Brett Gosnell was diagnosed with cancer as a teenager. At 20 years old, 6 days before his death, Brett wrote a challenge about how we spend our time. I never meet Brett. But his words articulate the message I have heard from some many of these young adults. Even as all their options are gone, they live with hope and optimism. They continue to believe in us and our ability to change the world. They believe in our ability to fight until we win.
Here is Brett's challenge to all of us.
I am not here physically, but I am looking down from heaven on this assembled group. I challenge you to adopt a new goal, a new way of life for yourself. Put helping, caring about, and serving others at the center of all that you do—not just for today or tomorrow but for the remainder of your life.
I ask you to look for ways in which to make a difference in the lives of others, regardless of who they are or where you find them. They are God’s children and they need us. We must turn away from thinking only of ourselves and remember that each one of us has a capacity for doing something. Discover what you can do—and do it. I ask you to do that.
But there is something else. In the act of helping others, think of this. It was my desire to make a difference, and I tried to do that in the opportunities that were given to me. There was so much more that I wanted to do, but I will keep my eye on you from heaven. Now you can pickup where I left off and serve so many others.
Hear this plea and respond to it. This is your friend who asks you to accept this challenge. Do something meaningful with your life. After all, that is how you can most honor me and my life.
If you have learned anything from me through all of this, do something with it to make a difference - to make things better.--Melissa Sengbusch
If my struggle with cancer galvanizes actions of goodness, I can rest assured that even if I succumb to the rogue cells, I will leave behind a legacy of victory. Dying is not what scares me, it’s dying having had no impact. I know a lot of eyes are watching me suffer; and---win or lose---this is my time for impact. If there be a purpose, then this is my hour. I have tried my best to show what it is to persevere, and what it means to be strong. -- Miles Levin
Cancer-I intend not only to beat you, But to better the lives of everyone I can: By loving them, encouraging them, giving Them information, making them laugh, Praying for them and by any other Means I can Cancer, you are not the end. You are merely my opportunity to serve Others and perhaps my only chance to attain At least some small measure of heroism. --Mark Hartwig
Every day is a gift. Everyday holds the hope of changing the world. Everyday is a chance to make life AWESOME!--Jake Silberg
How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.--Ann Frank
Please continue to pray for Mason McLeod, as he fights on the front lines of this horrible disease. He refuses to lose. He fights to win.