Dear Lauren Hill:
You don’t know me, but – in fact – you don’t know the vast majority of people around the world who are watching your story and praying for your health.
You don’t know me, but as a parent and a sports fan I have watched you grow up; playing soccer and basketball. I have covered games that you have been a part of; I have sat on the end of the gyms in Lawrenceburg and Switzerland County and taken photos that you are in.
You don’t know me, but for the past year, each and every night I bow my head and I pray that either God will give you healing; or that He will give you peace.
You don’t know me, but about two weeks ago I sat in my living room, tears streaming down my face, and watched as you walked onto a basketball court and participated in your first college game.
But it was so much more than a game.
It was a reunion of families and friends; it was an occasion to celebrate life; it was a party on a grand scale, with you as the guest of honor.
But in all of it, you didn’t relish the spotlight, but instead understood that your time in it gives you a platform to discuss very, very important issues and causes.
Lauren, there are many people, when they are dealt the situation that you find yourself in, who would simply get mad at everything and everyone and curl up in a ball and leave the world outside.
The fact that you have stepped outside, and invited the world into your story, shows the depth of your character and your faith. I’m sure it’s not easy to answer those very painful questions over and over again; to have your medical records and diagnosis opened for the world to see.
Being 19, you probably have every reason in the world to simply say, ‘enough is enough’, and tell everyone to mind their own business.
But you don’t.
You don’t because you know something that we haven’t stopped to consider:
Out there, somewhere, right now: there’s another Lauren Hill.
There’s a young girl or young boy who is sitting in a doctor’s office and they are listening to someone they barely know tell them awful news.
Their parents are trying not to collapse under the weight of the words you are hearing, because they want to show strength for their child.
Siblings and grandparents and other relatives, along with an entire community; will stop and take a deep breath and try and make sense of a senseless situation.
That’s why you’re now doing what you’re doing, as uncomfortable as it may be, because you are hoping that the next Lauren Hill gets much better news that you did.
You don’t know me, but I must tell you that I admire your character and your maturity and your willingness to think of others at a time when many only think of themselves.
You need to know that your unselfishness has raised millions of dollars to help fund research on a cancer that – before you – almost none of us had ever heard of.
You don’t know me, but we hear you now.
From basketball games to awkward layups to benefits and much, much more; people all over this planet now know about you and about your disease – and they’ve decided that enough is enough, something needs to be done to find a cure.
There will be a day when that cure is found, and in that celebration there will be tears and memories of a young woman who fought with every breath to make that day a reality.
Doctors say that odds are you won’t see that day; but who am I to think that I will see it, either? None of us is promised any more or any less than this moment.
That’s why we need to make each and every second count for something while we are here. We need to leave our fingerprints all over causes and issues and people that we care about. We need to leave here knowing that we made a difference for others following behind us.
You don’t know me, but you need to know what a remarkable difference you have made, not only in your community; but in your world.
There are millions of people, young and old, who will think of you and your bravery each and every time they see the number 22. They will think of you and your bravery every time they kiss their child goodnight.
I can’t tell you why you have to deal with this. I wish I could. As a man of faith; I only know that we are promised as heirs to God’s kingdom that while our lives here are like ‘vapors in the wind’, what comes next is so much better than what we leave behind here.
You don’t know me, but as a parent and a grandparent, having that assurance of Heaven gives those who are left behind a sense of comfort in a difficult time. I have seen your parents, brother and sister interviewed many times, and you need to know that although they will mourn, they are also strong and they love each other and many others love them.
I can guarantee you that if they could, your mom and dad would lift this burden from your shoulders, even if they had to carry it themselves. That’s what parents do, they love their children more than they love themselves.
That love comes into even more focus when we consider that God Himself allowed His Son to die so that we have that assurance of Heaven.
Lauren, you’ve been written about over and over again all over our world. You’ve been on television and radio; and you’ve trended on Twitter and been overwhelmed on Facebook.
You have created an entire community of people who have come together, regardless of the color of their skin or political persuasion or ethnic or economic situation. That community of people is now driven to make sure that your struggle has not been battled in vain.
The cure starts now. The cure starts here.
That community stands in awe of you and your faithfulness. It is a better place than it was before we came to know you; and it will continue to be a better place because you were in it.
As you struggle and fight, please know that symbolically we struggle and fight right along with you.
You have become a role model, a hero, and a standard of grace that we all strive towards. If each of us can be a little bit more like you, then we are better people, too.
I know I’m a better person because of your story.
You don’t know me, but I wanted you to know that.
- Pat Lanman