Monday November 3, 2014

Our news feeds this weekend were full of stories about brain tumors and what a cruel fate it is.

The story of Brittany Maynard, the young lady who chose to end her life yesterday under Oregon's die with dignity law has been in the news. She was a recurrent GBM patient, and she knew that her tumor growing again was going to mean an awful end.  She made a different choice, to go on her own terms.

I'm not hear to preach, but I can speak from experience.  Watching Shannon's brain tumor take control over the last three weeks of her life, I can tell you that no one wants to die that way.  Living like that isn't living anyway...

The story that hit even closer to home, though, was that of Lauren Hill.  If you watched any news yesterday, you probably saw her story - a college freshman who was diagnosed with DIPG and wanted to play one more basketball game.  Her college and the NCAA made it happen.  She scored 4 points yesterday in front of 10,000 fans.  

Watching the video clips, I couldn't help but think of Shannon.  Lauren's face is puffy from the steroids.  Her right side is failing her.  Her hearing and vision is a challenge.  She is going to die from this terrible disease very soon, and she knows it.  She's doing what she can to inspire others.  I knew a kid like that once...

I was already thinking about Shannon earlier yesterday.  We went to church and it was All Souls Day - a day of prayer for those who have died.  We did a processional into the church to start mass, carrying candles in remembrance of those we had lost.  Much of the music yesterday were songs that we chose for Shannon's funeral.

I'll always have these touchstones in my life.  Any time someone offers a prayer for the deceased.  Any time I hear about someone with a brain tumor.  Any time a child shows bravery and courage.  Those are all good reasons to stop and think about my sweet girl.

These stories this weekend are also a reminder to live your life the way that you want.  Be purposeful,  because who knows what lies ahead.  You can't control what happens to you while you are here on earth, but you can control your attitude.  I learned that from Shannon, and I try to remember it every day.

"Oh, my friend it's not what they take away from you that counts.  It's what you do with what you have left." - Hubert Humphrey