An Unexpected Gift
How a timely cancer care package gave a melanoma survivor hope and the vision to start His Radiant Hope.
It all started with an anonymous cancer care package—a simple act that gave me hope in a dark season and helped change the trajectory of my life.
A stranger, states away, made a deliberate choice to step into my pain and encourage me with an unexpected gift.
My overwhelming life
Back in 2014, and I was living the mom life, raising four kids under the age of seven with my husband, Kevin, while also working as an assistant lacrosse coach at a nearby university.
What I thought was a super overwhelming life was nothing compared to the super overwhelming life I was about to live.
Getting the call
Following the removal of a suspicious mole on my leg, my doctor called in the summer of 2014 and told me I had melanoma. No one seemed too concerned about it until they called me on the phone.
I was shocked and wondered if God had picked the wrong person.
Soon after, I had surgery to remove the remaining cancer, which they discovered had spread to my lymph nodes. Eventually, my doctor diagnosed me with stage III melanoma.
At the time, metastatic melanoma was basically a death sentence. And so, I tried to avoid the statistics and thinking about what would happen next.
I quickly became the person that I had fought my entire life not to be: the weak and needy one.
Getting weekly infusions of a drug called Interferon made me feel like I had the flu for several days.
I was struggling not just physically but also emotionally. As a mom, your life is to serve other people and take care of them. It was so hard for me to be selfish and accept help from others.
Watching a nanny take care of my kids every week made me angry—angry at my situation and angry at cancer.
It seemed that everything I thought was mine was being taken away from me.
How I found hope, strength and peace
I had moments in the dark asking God, Why? Yet, I don’t believe God made a mistake.
Cancer forced me to mourn and grieve a life that was never mine to hold on to.
My cancer diagnosis forced me to ask, What is this life about? Is my hope in what is happy and wonderful and comfortable in this life, or is it set on what is eternal?
I knew that in my weakest moments, God’s light was going to shine through me and through my situation, that he would somehow use my pain for good. That gave me hope.
Also, getting an anonymous cancer care package gave me hope, too, along with the vision to help others.
Getting the gift
The package showed up on my doorstep while I was in the thick of treatment.
It contained encouraging words and Bible verses written on bright yellow paper, along with lotion, Chapstick and mints. Everything seemed so purposeful and intentional for me. For example, the mints were helpful during infusions when my mouth felt so dry.
Throughout my journey, people often dropped off meals and brought coloring books and toys for my kids. But this was the first gift that that was personal for me.
I wanted to know who sent the cancer care package and why. Through some detective work, I discovered a random lady from Ohio sent it. She had read my blog and said that she was praying for me and wanted to encourage me.
I was pretty blown away. It was encouraging that a stranger was thinking of me, but even more the gift made me feel loved and seen by God. It planted a seed of hope in a very difficult time.
Radiant Hope Begins
The package also sparked the vision for His Radiant Hope, which is the nonprofit I started in 2015.
I, too, began making encouraging packages for other people with cancer who were having hard days.
Even though I was still living my own cancer journey, I took them to hospitals and infusion rooms and gave them away.
Later, we started shipping them to people, too. To date, Radiant Hope has given more than 2,500 cancer care packages. We have also given over 1,400 water bottles filled with gift cards and other gifts to oncology offices and infusion centers.
The name for His Radiant Hope comes from Psalm 34:5, “Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.”
Our purpose is to meet people in difficult seasons and encourage them with hope—hope in the moment and especially eternal hope found through a relationship with Jesus.
How cancer changed me
Cancer gave me the gift of empathy. I realized that my pain is similar to so many other people’s pain who are dealing with cancer. And I’m glad that I can step in and encourage others who are suffering.
Update on my health
My treatment was supposed to last five years, but I stopped early as my body could no longer handle it. Over time I reached No Evidence of Disease though the term “cure” isn’t used for advanced melanoma.
Cancer treatment for melanoma has come a long way compared to what was available for me at the time.
These days I do all I can to keep an optimal terrain for fighting cancer, including eating well and alternative treatments like Ozone therapy and supplements. And I just keep moving forward.
Advice for others
I would encourage others facing cancer to accept it, mourn it, grieve it, and even be mad at it. Be all the things that will help you say yes to your community. Because there are people out there who are praying for someone like you and want to help.
So let them help you.
For those who face a tough diagnosis, hold on to the hope that God is going to do something with your pain—that he is enough and that his heart for you is still good.
A lot of people wonder, What is going to happen to me, and where am I going when I die?
You don’t have to wonder; you can have certainty about where you will go. Eternal hope will help you in this life and the one that is yet to come.
I don’t believe in coincidences. I know that every path of every day in our lives is purposeful and meant for our benefit.
God showed me that my pain was for a reason, including giving me the vision for His Radiant Hope.
I want others to find purpose in their pain, too—to find eternal hope and see that God’s heart for them is good.
For more about how to find spiritual hope, see Knowing God Personally.
For how spiritual hope can help you on your journey, see God’s Help in Cancer.
For help with fear, see Fighting the Fear of Cancer.