How cancer changed my birthday.

So, last night I had a hard time sleeping. I am so excited because today is not just any day; it is a day in my life as a birthday cancer survivor! When I was diagnosed with cancer on December 24th2007, (Christmas Eve), I did not know if I would live to see another birthday. I was originally told I had a small tumor, only to find out a few days later I had invasive cancer. When I heard the words that I had cancer, my life changed instantly. People became most important to me, and things less important. Yes, there have been many surgeries and treatments, as well as the side effects that go along with them. However, life is good. Jesus has been my best friend and has never left me nor forsaken me.

God took my suffering and allowed me to see something most people never pay much attention to. During the years after diagnosis and being told by my oncologist that children are treated ten times more aggressively when cancer attacks them, I just could not fathom what they experience. I thought about the commercials I had seen on television of precious children with bald heads, and my heart cried out to God for them. I was fifty-one years old at the time of diagnosis, and these children had their whole lives ahead of them. God has allowed me to meet some of the bravest young soldiers that have cancer. Let me tell you, if you spent one day with a child going through cancer, you would know they are amazing! You may see their bald head and be afraid to get involved because it makes you sad. Let me tell you, “ These kids inspire me, and I know they will you, too.” They are ordinary children with a life-threatening diagnosis. Yes, their world is different than that of a normal child. They may ride in wagons down the hallways of hospitals, or be confined to a bed and not be able to leave their hospital room. They may be missing out on school, being taught in their hospital rooms when they feel well enough. Also, they don’t bully each other. Instead, they are there for their comrades in cancer treatment. However, they always bring a smile to my face by something they say, or just by their pure strength! I have found that kids with cancer mature so quickly in their thinking process because they have been dealt what can be a life sentence.  My mission in life is to give these children hope in the face of adversity. Hope that there can be life after a cancer diagnosis on earth, and live eternally through Jesus Christ.

Did I know in 2007 that I would still be here today to celebrate another milestone, my birthday? No, I did not, so birthdays are a pretty big deal to me now as a cancer survivor! I mean, come on, I will bring out the birthday hats, cake with all those candles, and celebrate my Savior today for allowing me to live to see another birthday!  As I observe today, I will praise Jesus for those individual young soldiers in the army of cancer that did not enlist, but instead were drafted, and pray they continue to celebrate another birthday, too!

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

Written by Gaylon Hayden, President of Book for Hope, Inc.