My daughter, Nikki, was diagnosed with Sporadic Medullary Thyroid Cancer at the age of 17 while she was a junior in high school. I never imagined how inspiring, spiritual and stressful the journey would be… or how strong I would have to be.
When Nikki was diagnosed, it was two days after Easter. On Easter, Nikki was sent the Bible verse John 3:16 on her iPhone from her Young Life Leader that made a great impact on our perspective of her cancer diagnosis. The evening we received the diagnosis, John 3:16 came to me again. I felt such a chill when I saw it again, and I understood that if I really believed that verse, then everything would be okay, that Nikki belongs to God, I am her caregiver and now I have to “walk the talk.” It was a very powerful experience. I shared this story with Nikki, and this Bible verse became a guidepost theme for us.
At diagnosis, we were told there was no treatment for Nikki’s type of cancer other than surgery. A friend told me to stay positive about the future and not react based on the current medical information. That concept became consistently important for me. So, my husband and I decided to move forward with “normal” activities, and I remained positive for my daughter, including supporting her Relay for Life team, four weeks before her nine-hour surgery (she raised $20,000 by the time of the Relay event a month after her surgery!). A few weeks after the Relay event, Nikki begged for a foundation to continue to help others, even with an upcoming vocal cord surgery, radiation/scans and her senior year of high school, Bite Me Cancer became a foundation in September 2010.
Throughout our 5.5 years with cancer, I have prayed deeply and have lived a more inspired life. I have helped Nikki be positive and strong through faith. We’ve had great talks about her dreams/goals, have shared amazing experiences, and I’ve also worried. I’ve tried to focus on the blessings of everyday life, staying in the now, and feeling gratitude at all times. Many times the cancer did get in the way of my peace, but I prayed for guidance and somehow got through it.
At diagnosis/surgery, I could not have imagined all that Nikki would accomplish and experience. She has led Bite Me Cancer (www.bitemecancer.
org) to meet its annual goals to raise research funds for Thyroid Cancer and also to support/inspire teenagers battling cancer. She has inspired so many people, including me. She has great friends, she loves her new full-time job, she loves her new apartment and we have a special relationship.
For me, this is a journey of faith as well as a journey of cancer. Every experience of life is a blessing. I pray every day to have peace in this journey and to give Nikki the best possible life that God has to offer her.
By: Sharon Ferraro
Bite Me Cancer