Never use my death as an excuse for anything, but motivation for everything.
Stefanie Spielman (1967-2009)
by Charles Moncrief
My wife is a survivor of breast cancer since 1998. We met Stefanie and Chris on one of their fundraising cruises in 2008, benefiting the James Cancer Center in Columbus. We were both impressed with their warmth as well as their endless energy. We were also deeply touched by Stefanie's compassion toward those going through this disease. At the survivor breakfast Stefanie talked for about 45 minutes and then opened the floor for comments. Several responded, all motivated to pay forward the encouragement they had received from Stefanie. Since we’re from Dallas, we could celebrate but not participate in this response. Nonetheless, we were inspired by Stefanie's words. And we were grieved by Stefanie’s closing comments, announcing that the cancer had come back. Something told my wife and me that Stefanie’s life would end soon, and our hearts sank the following year when the news came.
Stefanie (left) and my wife Ruth
I could continue to tell stories of Stefanie’s heroics near the end of her life, and of Chris’ heroics before and since. But that would defeat my purpose. Everyone diagnosed with cancer starts out as a survivor, and everyone who has been through the affliction is a hero. That’s all I have to say on the subject.
I want instead to address is the use of an adversity as an excuse, and the use of the adversity as motivation. The adversity may be a loved one’s pending or death, or the memory of a loss that has already occurred. The adversity may be a relationship about to end as a result of brokenness, or one that has already ended. The adversity may be our doctor’s pending diagnosis, or a diagnosis that we’re still trying to absorb.
How we will respond to any adversity in our lives, whether as an excuse or as a motivation, is largely -- though not exclusively -- our choice to make. In more than one speech, Chris Spielman said he has much to do. Sometimes spoken, sometimes unspoken, Chris always acknowledges the absolutely essential part that those in his support base have played as he goes forward in his life. The value of those who walk alongside us in adversity is greater than gold.
Grace and Peace,
Let me add a postscript to this idea of walking alongside someone. I didn’t have to walk with my wife as she struggled through cancer and her life since then. Rather, I got to walk with her. It was one of the greatest privileges of my life.
Anglican Priest, Charles Moncrief, serves up the issues of the day on a platter mixed with scripture, seriousness, and a sense of humor to create a ministry founded in love for his fellow man.
“I’m an Anglican Priest, disguised as a geek during the week. It’s REALLY tough to change my costume, since phone booths are getting hard to find!”