"I was diagnosed with brain cancer in 2009 when I was 16 years old. It was a devastating diagnosis because it came out of nowhere. I was in the hospital dealing with a previous condition when I starting getting splitting migraines. I was then taken down for an MRI of my brain as a precaution. They scheduled emergency surgery when they found a golf ball sized tumor in my brain.
I couldn't even comprehend what they were saying when the word 'cancer' came out of the oncologist's mouth. My heart had hurt for people that had cancer, but it never broke in such a way as it did as I went through treatment to cure mine.
I had a choice to make on the day of my diagnosis: was I going to survive, or was I going to thrive despite a crappy hand that was dealt to me? I chose to thrive.
It was really put on my heart that my mission through this season of life was to inspire others. To take every opportunity to share my story and let other people in hard situations know that they are not alone.
At first I thought this journey would be with just the brain cancer community, but the further I allowed God to stretch me, the more people were impacted by my story. I spent months upon months in the hospital and I made it a goal of mine to inspire at least one person each day.
One of my favorite stories was from a few weeks ago when I had the chance to speak to a nurse that I have now known for almost 10 years. When she gets assigned to my room she always lingers, asking random questions. Each time I've been admitted, I have had some sort of opportunity to share Christ with her. Well, after my second brain surgery in 2010, I was diagnosed with epilepsy because of the trauma to my brain from the surgery. She always jokes with me, 'don't have a seizure while I'm on duty...' I never knew if she was kidding or not until last month when I was admitted again, and I seized on and off for upwards of 5 hours. It took every trick up the doctors' sleeves to get me out of the seizure, and this particular nurse was there; administering meds, holding my hand, talking me through it the whole time. After I woke up later that night, she came into my room and with tears in her eyes said: 'I know you are spiritual, but there has to be something else, how do you stay positive after that...?' She told me about how one time she opened a bible and read about weakness making people stronger, and how she didn't understand it until she met me. She said 'I hear this word "grace" all the time, and I don't know what it means, but you seem to understand.' 10 years of conversation; me sharing my story, my life, my love for Jesus, and it took a struggle I'd rather not have had today for her heart to be opened to God's saving grace.
This is just one of the MANY stories of the ways my struggles have inspired others.
There are so many times where I wish I didn't have to go through the trials that I have in my life, but when I look at the reward and how God has used me to touch others' lives through it, it makes it all worth it. My goal is to inspire others and bring glory to the King." -Alexandra Z.