Fallen Soldiers March®

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Fallen Soldiers March® 501 (c) (3) non-profit

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Fallen Soldiers March®

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A 501 (c) (3) Non-Profit Dedicated to
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Living through the Hopelessness

Living through the Hopelessness

By Tori Svenson

Follow-up to Hopelessness – Why Are Children Believing Our Future Is Uncertain

Is there ever a circumstance that justifies a feeling of hopelessness? Would you say a child hearing the words "you have brain cancer" when just seven years old allows for complete hopelessness? Typically, the answer would be yes. We all have our "cancer" moment sometime in our lives that literally stops us in our tracks and makes us feel hopeless. When circumstances become seemingly insurmountable, we have a choice whether to live in the hopelessness of that circumstance or hang on to the hope promised by God. In Jeremiah 29:11, God promises this: "I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future" (NIV).

I was the typical seven-year-old but had parents who were raising me to work hard and give back. Being raised in a military family, I knew how to be resilient, as we moved a lot. I loved school and had already skipped kindergarten, and my parents were asked to let me skip a second grade.

My love for competitive cheer started when I was four, and by the time I was seven, I was working on my tuck; I lived, ate, and breathed cheer. This is also when I fell in love with beauty pageants and entered the Relay for Life pageant and began raising money in honor of a little girl with terminal brain cancer. I hit the ground running and raised almost $800.

It was during this time that I began experiencing headaches and nausea and losing all color. My teacher would just have me lay my head down on my desk and let the "episodes" pass. Several specialists later, on April 12, 2011, I was scheduled for an MRI and was diagnosed with a brain tumor the same day. My parents were told to rush me to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, and everything moved at lightning speed after that. I had brain surgery three days later followed by six weeks of radiation. Six rounds of chemotherapy were scheduled for a 52-week period.  

There were no fig leaves to cover my hopelessness. Radiation was a beast! My mom was told I would lose my hair within three weeks of my first treatment, and it was three weeks to the day. We lived in a hotel for six weeks so I could be in Atlanta for my daily radiation treatments. I will never forget hearing my mom try to muffle her sobs in the bathroom; I went and opened the door and her hand was literally on top of her mouth in an effort for me not to hear her cries. She turned toward me and explained she had seen the most beautiful lock of my hair lying on the pillow. It was at that point she understood the poison being injected into my body.

Radiation almost killed me and, if I am being honest, will kill me. Seven children die each day from their cancer treatments. The side effects continue to show up—at this point weekly. What side effects do I suffer? I found out I was post-menopausal at age ten and will never have my own baby—talk about soul crushing. Thyroid problems, nerve damage, Reynaud’s, closed growth plate, hair loss where I received radiation, and most recently I was diagnosed with Stage 2 chronic kidney damage.

While most parents long for their child to receive "the trophy" and appease their child’s every need and want, my parents just long for me to live. With that being said, we realize we were chosen for a different path, and we all rest in the hope of God’s plan and fully rest in His peace. I long for and live with the hope that my better fig leaves are to come after God chooses to call me home—the key phrase being "when God calls me home" for it is not up to me to make that choice.

There were days during treatment when I wanted to give up and I longed to be called home, but I had not yet fulfilled God’s plan or purpose for my life. I never knew why I was chosen to walk this journey while here on earth until one day at the altar. I was feeling extremely vulnerable about my situation and was confused as to "why me?" But then after kneeling for a second, I felt this comforting hug come out of nowhere. Of course, by this point I was bawling my eyes out because I thought somebody had seen I was at a low point and had come to comfort me. But when I looked up, nobody was there. I realized then that God had me and was not letting go. I knew He would be there through it all. I realize now that God chose me so I could share my story and help others come to know Him as their Lord and Savior.

Without question, there has been a significant increase in the rate of suicide, even in our community, of all ages. My heart grieves for the pain they felt in that moment. Whatever mountain they had in front of them that they felt they could not climb was just Satan telling them "nobody cares about you; you’re worthless." The reality is that every circumstance is temporary here on earth. Does knowing that diminish the pain we feel? Does it take away the hopelessness that temporarily engulfs us? Of course not. But if we stop, breathe, and call on the Lord, are we ever truly hopeless? "Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him. Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge" (Psalm 62:5–7 NIV).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 
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