Preparing for a marathon is simple. You push your body to the limits of your strength, recover, then push farther, creating a new limit, constantly increasing strength and confidence. It's a principle called "Strength on Strength" training. Each week you force yourself a little farther, faster, and taking on more resistance. Each week building more strength and endurance for the more difficult challenges still ahead.
This is really the same process used in fighting cancer. Except the intensity is a thousand times greater, and the outcome is life or death. And it's our children doing all the work. Aggressive chemotherapy pushes their bodies to the limit, attempting to kill everything except the most vital organs. Then treatments back off, allowing the body to “recover” as it fights the side effects. And then more chemo, higher doses of pure poison, simultaneously pushing the body closer to both the cure and the grave.
As I watch these young people, I am in awe. Their bodies are beaten. But through the pain, I see an incredible strength emerge. Strength of character, compassion, and courage. I see a joy and thrill for life. A passion to enjoy everyone and everything around them. As their options are eliminated, their focus becomes clear. They understand the meaning and purpose of life more more than the rest of us.
And when they win, when it is all over, they do not run. They move past the painful memories, and return to support their friends. Strengthening and encouraging. Helping them move from strength to strength.
Tyler spent a year of Hell on the cancer floor. I saw the pain as he lost his friends Brett, Duck, Ryan, and others. But he will be back this Thanksgiving serving dinner to the families on the floor. And for the 3rd year, he will be delivering “Stuff and Fluff” bears to the kids on the floor for Christmas.
Kylee Bornhorst was diagnosed the same day as Tyler. She beat cancer, and reurned to school. And now she will soon be joining the hospital staff as a counselor working with the kids.
I saw Joe Friend in ICU, battling his 2nd relapse. He spent the entire time talking about the “most perfect job in the world”…coming back to Children’s to talk and play with the kids on the cancer floor.
Jake Silberg also went through horrendous treatments for Burkitt’s, the same cancer Tyler beat. Jake beat the cancer, and now has committed his life to becoming a pediatric oncologist. In the mean time, he is running marathons and triathlons for the Leukemia Society.
Christina O’Brian, fighting her 3rd relapse, continues to maintain the brightest smile I have ever seen. Nothing, absolutely nothing, can bring her down. And her attitude is contagious throughout the entire cancer floor.
And the stories go on and on. These are my heroes. Just read their words. Feel their inspiration, as they move from strength to strength.
I can not believe this year and all of the things I have got to do. I am so happy to be where I am, and so glad I have had to fight to get here. Who doesn't have ups and downs growing up....Mine just had chemo involved. – Christina O’Brian
Every day is a gift. Everyday holds the hope of changing the world. Everyday is a chance to make life AWESOME!
During chemo you find you're stronger than you've ever been. You're clear. Your mortality is close enough to give you depth perception. Previously, it has taken you weeks, months, or years to discover the meaning of an experience. Now it's instantaneous. – Melissa Bank
Whatever happens in life, fall in love with it. –Cory Pike
Don’t ever have any what-ifs. Live your life to the fullest. – Bradley Brock
I want to only have experiences that count, that matter. That teach me or someone else something that matters. If life isn't growth, if survival isn't achievement, then what am I doing this for? - Sean Swarmer
I hate it when people give up. Don't ever give up. Follow your dreams. – Brenden Foster
I want to die from an overdose of life - Robbie Russell
Trials make or break a person. The greater the ordeal, the more strength you'll attain upon surmounting it, or the further you will fall. I am doing fine because I refuse to do otherwise. That much is mine. – Miles Levin
These young people have taught me the meaning and purpose of life. From my perspective, they are the very definition of sainthood.
They go from strength to strength; each one appears before God in Zion. -King David, Psalms 84:7
Fan into the flame the gift of God which is in you…for God did not give you a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love, of self-discipline. – St Paul, 2 Timothy 1:6-7
I have the strength for everything through him who empowers me. – St. Paul, Philippians 4:13