Guest Blog: A 13-Year-Old’s Journey from Cancer to Grace
Melinda Marchiano is an astounding young lady who made the conscious choice not to succumb to the LIES™ that bring so many down when faced with a devastating cancer diagnosis. At 13-years-old, this young survivor of Hodgkin lymphoma embarked on a journey that resulted in an award-winning book that caught the attention of another famous cancer survivor – Lance Armstrong. The story of her amazing resolve is nothing short of divine inspiration. We are grateful that she chose to share how she kept cancer’s LIES from limiting her during a time when no one would have blamed her for taking a major time out.
Every day, we encounter an overwhelming number of lies emitted from those around us and even ourselves. An innocent child, I used to allow these lies to tangle me in fear and doubt and inhibit me from doing things my heart urged me to do. It was not until I stared cancer in the face at age 13 that the concept of “going for it” in life became clear. After almost two years of constant self-combat, I was exhausted, yet spiritually renewed. There was not a moment to waste. I was given a second chance at life, and everything that stood in my way of living that life to the absolute fullest was of no significance. Cancer had violently attacked and engulfed my world as I stood helpless. Every moment had been about fighting…fighting….fighting. I could do nothing else. All of the lies that called to me lay hidden in the fog of cancer as I pushed to put one foot in front of the other day after day. When the beast was slain, and I at last began to recover from not only the cancer, but the treatments, a road of opportunity sprawled ahead of me. Suddenly, nothing held me back…nothing. The lies that I heard and told myself were blown down by the winds of passion erupting from my spirit. Cancer had held me back for so long…and to think that I was going to let silly untruths dominate my existence… UH-UH.
“Why are you always doing homework?” I heard yet again as I glanced up from a spiral notebook laden with scribbles.
The answer was always the same, “I’m not…I’m writing a book.”
The resulting expression was always slightly different, yet always sprinkled with doubt. Just a wee, fragile, sickly-looking freshman, I could have let these encounters fluster me. Heck, I could have thrown down my notebook right there and then and ran into the bathroom crying. But, strangely enough, their doubt further fueled my desire to keep writing. I realized that the lies the world tells us hinder our ability to accomplish great things for ourselves and for others. Each time another doubtful peer inquired about my “homework,” I became more determined to break down the walls of the status quo. 14 year olds don’t survive cancer and write a book about it…or do they?
Each one of us faces our own unique challenges in life; it is so easy to feel victimized and let this feeling extinguish the “go-getter” in us. I was an innocent victim of cancer, but I soon acknowledged that existing in a shell of self-pity chained me down and prevented me from growing as a person. “Poor me” and “I can’t do it” seem to be our “default” as human beings. It is those who seek the truth that know of the tremendous rewards received when we take that frightening step. Now the author of Grace: A Child’s Intimate Journey Through Cancer and Recovery and a soldier in the war against cancer, I have been blessed to connect with amazing people who are making a difference. These are the people who have mastered the art of dodging the everyday lies they come upon. It is in this open-spirited state that God can use us exactly how He wishes. Although cancer was the most terrible thing I have ever experienced, I am grateful that it taught me this life-changing lesson…for my life now has greater purity and purpose.