By Maria Gordon
Up until the last two years of my life, I never had experienced tragedy, heart-breaking events, and the hardest question to get answered, WHY? The deepest injustices I have felt in life cannot be traced to an individual. Do I, should I blame and question God? Of course I do, but Pastor Mike’s sermon this past Sunday really spoke to me. God has felt injustice on the cross at a level we will never feel. However, with that injustice, there was an act of justice and we are the beneficiaries of that. Our sins are forgiven because of the transpiring at the cross, but we still live in a fallen and broken world full of unanswered questions, and feelings of injustice surround us.
Feelings of injustice creep into my being when I see a brand new baby and the heavenly glow on the new mom’s face. My husband and I long to have children, but are unable to at this time. I do not know how many times I think about all of the “unwanted” babies conceived every day, and ask, WHY them and not ME? I believe it is not a reflection of God’s will. The timing of our children will be perfect. Through this season of being patient, we are being blessed beyond measure, and able to help others out while we wait.
As I mull through my own losses, physical struggles and the losses my friends have experienced, the indescribable pain I have seen my family and others endure through the journey of cancer is like no other. For those of you reading this not familiar with the past 9 months of my family’s life, I will briefly share what has transpired.
My 5-year-old nephew Genesis was diagnosed with a rare form of childhood cancer on July 1, 2011 (Stage IV, Rhabdomyosarcoma with metastases to the lungs). This was heartbreaking to us all and needless to say, our lives were turned upside down. To even fathom the thought of my sister Sara losing her only child was unbearable. She is a single parent, working full-time as a social worker, and Genesis is her world. Sara has experienced so much heartache already in her life; to have to go through this, and carry the burden not only for her son, but herself as well, is the definition of injustice.
The treatment protocol for this beast is 36 rounds of chemo spread over 54 weeks, 6 weeks of radiation to his head (original site of the tumor was in the space between his ear and brain and around his carotid artery) and it will end with whole lung radiation. His latest scan in December showed NED (no evidence of disease), however the treatment cannot stop because this type of cancer is so aggressive and loves to come back.
Our family has seen an outpouring of love and support that I cannot even put into words. We had a Pampered Chef fundraiser that was one of the most successful fundraisers the company has ever seen. My extended family is currently planning a carnival to help raise money for Team Genesis. Not to mention the almost daily delivery of cards and gifts in the mail. God has shown up BIG time!
During this journey, we have learned and grieved with other families with kids that have cancer. One that sticks out to me is 12-year-old Jessica Joy Rees. She was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor, and passed away January 5th, 2012 after a 10-month battle. Please see the video of her and what mission she decided to take on and share with other kids going through cancer treatment. What a legacy she is leaving. Genesis was excited to get his Joy Jar!
Sara and Genesis have taught us so much. He has a way of saying things that my sister affectionately calls “Quotes from Genesis.” He recently told Sara that he was sent here from God to beat cancer. The perspective and zest for life this courageous boy has is beyond words. Shortly before his diagnosis, he asked his mama if he could pray at the dinner table for everybody who had cancer and for them to be healed. Surely that was our God speaking right through our sweet nephew and preparing us all for the story that was about to unfold.
So many questions, so many unknowns, countless trips to and from Minnesota, and visits to the hospital and clinic. We have or never will stop believing that Genesis will fight this, survive and use it as a platform to inspire others and create awareness for childhood cancer (not as rare as one might think). Sara is the one leading us in battle on earth as our Father is up in Heaven. Her strength and determination are second to none. Sara said something to me during our most recent phone conversation that I will never forget. She would never wish this journey on anybody, but she feels honored by God to fight this battle for her son and to be a voice for the other kids and families dealing with cancer. The lessons and support she has given me during this time has been unbelievable; she has never stepped out of the role of big sister. I have gained perspective from her about injustice; she is not bitter, and does not blame God. She is fighting this battle with humility and grace, and for that she is my hero.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12: 1-2