A Childhood Cancer Survivor Blogging about the World of Childhood Cancer

Posts tagged ‘Faith’

Letters to and from Jessie Rees’s Daddy





Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies.

~Mother Teresa

From Jessie Rees Foundation Facebook Page 1-24-2013



“My Jessie Journal:: Hi Sweet-Pea! I miss you so much. It has been really hard for us after your one year Heaven date. I think I have been medicating myself with busyness and not really dealing with some stuff that I need to. Bottom-line is I’m mad at God. I’m not turning my back on him but I am mad. It took me years to understand why He let my dad physically and emotionally abuse me when I was a little boy. But I’ve learned there are certain things in life that I won’t fully understand until I’m with you. So I will add that to my “talk to God bucket”. The main reason I’m mad now is the immense residual pain your fight has left on our family. I don’t like seeing your mommy, sister and little bro cry. I just want to take aware their pain like I wanted to take away your cancer. But I can’t. And as a dad that prides himself on being a great “daddy” not being able to take pain away and protect my kids is so hard. Then I think of the million+ other families that sit with the same residue in their heart. I have been able to help some of these families navigate their grief the last year, which is a good thing but I just reminds me of the broken brutal world we live in. This is not heaven!!! There is a little saying that says, “Life Hurts…God Heals”. I fully understand the “life hurts” part and want to believe God “heals” but after months of praying, pleading, begging, negotiating with Him for your healing and then getting no earthly healing it really was hard. So again, I’m left to “trust” in God. My counselor is challenging me to “fall back in love with God”. That seems so distant but sometimes in life there are situations that call for us to move forward despite our feelings and fears. So I’m going to focus on your little motto and message NEGU to keep my momentum going as I repair my relationship with God and strive to help mommy, Shaya and JT. NEGU on God and NEGU on Life is what I need to focus on.  If you get a chance, please visit in my prayers. I would love to hear, “I’m ok daddy”. I know in my head you are but my heart would love to hear from you.  Miss you tons, love your more and I will see you in a “wink”. I promise!

Jessie’s father’s cry breaks my heart. It breaks my heart. Little kids are not supposed to suffer; they are not supposed to die. The emotional damage of childhood cancer is deep, and it’s something so painful that we have difficulty acknowledging it. If we have never experienced the horror ourselves, we feel much better not getting close to those feelings. Those feelings are unimaginable—if we even go to the place of imagining… oh my gosh… it might happen to us!!!

But the trouble with turning away is that this same nightmare will continue its devastation on children and their entire families. We must ask ourselves how we can stop it and then do everything we can, as fast as we can, to get it done.

We need research for cures for childhood cancer. With proper funding, cures are within our reach.

Dear Mr. Rees,
I can hardly see as I write this to you. I will always remember this message of yours. Before this day, I had already dedicated my life to doing all that I can to bring cures for children with cancer. What I want you to know is that your heart has renewed, inspired, and encouraged my fight.
If I may encourage you in your faith, it would be a great blessing. We hear all the time that “God is in control,” but what I would love for you to consider is that He gave all of us free will. If “our will” was to cure childhood cancer, it would have already been done. We are missing what is right in front of us. We have the tools, the resources, and the knowledge. But our will, as a society, is twisted into false perceptions because what we imagine to be truly important is oftentimes nonsense. One example… how much did we spend in the United States last year on cosmetic surgery?  Since I asked this, I had to look it up… $10.4 BILLION…
I am so sorry for your tremendous loss. My prayer is that your pain will transform people’s lives– like it has mine– to help them to make choices based on care, compassion, kindness, and love. I pray you grow closer to our loving, living God. You have made an imprint on my heart forever. I wish there was a way I could thank you.
With hope for all of our futures,

What can YOU do?

Please take a moment to sign this petition:

Light the White House Gold for the month of September to honor pediatric cancer fighters.


St. Baldrick’s Shave


St  Baldrick's Flyer



The Earth is Filled to the Brim with God’s Glory

When my mom and I began this Children’s Hospital Hope Tour, I had high aspirations of writing each night to tell you what happens each and every day. Our schedule has been very tight, and we are filling our days to the tippity-top! There have been many surprises along the way, and we have met people we thought we would never have the chance to meet. When we return home, I look forward to filling in all of the details.

My truest intention on our Hope Tour is to bless the children who are currently fighting cancer to give them hope. My purpose is to give. You know how it feels when everything in you tells you that you need to step out in action? There is no way Mom and I could not set out to complete this mission of our hearts. What I need– and want– to share with you today is how we feel God’s presence each moment of each day… how we feel we are receiving, rather than giving. 

As we drove through upstate New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Indiana today, at every turn, we were overwhelmed with God’s goodness. The beauty of the land that God has given us overwhelmed us again and again, till our eyes brimmed with tears. The great fields of crops and scenic red barns that dotted the land gave me a gratefulness I have not known until this day. Today, I am struck how grateful I am for this Earth God has made for us– for this land that produces the food that sustains us and this land that truly shows us who God is and how much He loves us. 

It is true that He loves us so. It is true that He has filled this Earth with His glory. We need to protect and nourish this land of ours. As our love gift to Him, let’s be good to this land and good to each other.

There is no doubt. I have seen it with my eyes. I know it in my heart. 

The Earth is filled with God’s glory!

God's Glory all around us

The Magic Wand


Grace: A Child's Intimate Journey Through Cancer and Recovery

Dear Oprah,

It’s me, Melinda again, with Part II of my “Squeak-Squeak”2011 New Year Letter to you.  I am inspired, motivated, and thankful to be a soldier in the passionate Facebook army of over 51,000 people who are asking you to do a show on childhood cancer.  Suddenly, my “Squeak” is multiplied many times over, with others writing letters to you daily. This is our way of demonstrating the immediate need for action. We are calling upon you because we believe you are the person who will be caring, willing, and able to accomplish the monumental task of gathering together the building blocks of a Childhood Cancer War Machine.

Instead of allowing space to quote statistics today, I will use all of the space to speak straight from my heart. I did not “decide” to become a soldier in this army. This mission chose me; there is no way I can turn my back on the children who are suffering. When I think about the children who will have to suffer in the future if we do not act now, I cannot sleep; I cannot breathe. Not only do we need to act now, but we need to act in a HUGE way!

In addition to being a soldier in the Facebook movement and army to help children with cancer, I am a full-time soldier in God’s army. My cancer story– my life story– is a story of faith, and my faith guides me, leads me, and challenges me to do what God has placed before me to do.

What He has asked me to do is to help His sick and suffering children.

Oprah, I need your help. Just itty-bitty Melinda cannot do this alone. Please gather together childhood cancer experts with members of The Giving Pledge. Make something amazing and magical happen! You hold the “Magic Wand” in your hands.

Please wave your Magic Wand over Childhood Cancer.

I believe in your magic,


16 Year-Old Author of Grace: A Child’s Intimate Journey Through Cancer and Recovery

Getting Ready for a PET Scan

Diana and The Chevron Station

For those of you who have read Grace: A Child’s Intimate Journey Through Cancer and Recovery, you may remember a story that took place at our local Chevron Station. Mom and I were on our way to the Cancer Center in Santa Barbara, filling up the car for our daily radiation treatment journeys, when a woman came over to our car. Mom was busy scrubbing the windshield when “Diana” approached her and asked if she could  pray for me. At the time, I was completely bald– not even one wisp of hair dangling from my scalp. Diana proceeded to pray one of the most heartfelt, meaningful prayers I have ever heard in my entire life. With tears flowing down our cheeks as our silver Tundra sped down the freeway on ramp, we then noticed something else… 

Giggle, giggle… have to read Grace!

This moment in time is something I will never forget. And now, I have a brilliant memory to add to this one. One of the girls I dance with on the Nipomo High School Dance Company asked me yesterday, “Do you remember the woman who prayed for you at the gas station?”

“Yes… ” I replied.

“Well, she’s my mom,” she announced.


Oh this is so great, so amazing, so incredible! I believe I am going to have the opportunity to wrap my arms around Diana and thank her for reaching out to me with her loving heart. Wish you could see me smiling now:):):)

I love that there are “Dianas” in this world of ours who teach us to not be afraid to share our love and faith with everyone. I am grateful– so grateful– that Diana gave me the gift of her divine prayer that day.

This appreciation in me will last my lifetime.



Grace – First Chemo Day Excerpt

“Are we done?” I mumbled indistinguishably.

I opened my eyes as much as I could, the towel over my head obstructing my view. I saw faint, blue blobs, nurses masked by an un-clearable blur. I tried to say a few other things to them, but my mouth was not capable of producing words. It was as if the cable connecting my brain and mouth had been severed, and it became frustrating. I then realized the intense pain in my left arm which radiated all the way up to my shoulder. I saw a strange contraption hooked on at the bend in my elbow, and when someone adjusted it, I grimaced in pain. I wondered where my parents were.  We were done, right? Right?

Suddenly, I heard Dr. Dan’s voice as he reentered. Several nurses flipped me on my left side and began to scrub my lower back, practically my rear end. It hit me. It was not over…I had awakened right in the middle of it. Panicking, I shut my eyes, thinking that I could make myself return to unconsciousness. But when I slammed my eyelids closed, I witnessed something just as scary, I was hallucinating. Just about every possible color flew around in a whirl, making me the dizziest I have ever been. It was a dizziness that, if it was possible to die from dizziness, would have killed me. Also, for an instant, I saw the image of my mom, and I remember crying out to her in my head.

Thinking she was all too real, I screamed, “Mom! Mom! Come back! No, I need you!”

Her loving face was sucked into the spiral of flying colors like a dust mite up into a vacuum. My heart couldn’t take it, I opened my eyes once again, but terror gripped me. It was either the nightmare of all nightmares, or I was a spectator of my own surgery. I thought it was the end, I was almost positive that this was what it felt like to die. I was going insane, and nobody had a clue. Just when I thought I had nothing left, I remembered something. It was a Bible verse that my mom had taught me. She had said it to herself as she was in labor and gave birth to my brothers and I. Not knowing where else to turn, I turned to God.
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” I whispered internally. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” I repeated.

And that was it. I knew that no matter how painful or frightening it got, I could do it. I was in awe by how it spoke to me. I told myself that if we can do anything with the Lord’s help, then we should not be afraid of anything. Pain is just pain, and God went through so much more of it for us than I can even imagine. God can do this, it is easy for him, and he lives within me. Therefore, I can do this, no, I will do this. Just as the Spirit of the Lord empowered my soul, the big, long needle pierced my pelvis. The pain was so intense that I let out a bloody yet silent cry inside my head. It was like nothing I had ever experienced…or hope to experience again. And as Dr. Dan harvested my marrow, I talked to myself.

“The Lord is good. He is here with me,” I remember saying.

I pictured Jesus, my savior, taking all of the suffering from me, bearing it all himself. I knew that He would do this for me, and just the thought of it seemed to numb some of the discomfort. I am not sure if I finally returned to sleep or passed out from the pain but, after that, I have no recollection of anything. Maybe even the Lord, with his heavenly, pure anesthesia, heard my prayers.

copyright by Melinda Marchiano, author of Grace

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