A few weeks ago I got a last-minute invitation to attend an annual event called “Pray for Gray.”
Julie Fletcher began the foundation and the fundraiser as a way to provide hope and support for brain tumor patients and their families.
The project is dear to Julie’s heart. Doctors found a pear-sized tumor on Julie’s right frontal lobe after she suffered an seizure. Julie was told she could have 12 to 15 months to live. That was six years ago.
Some of the people honored at the Pray for Gray event won’t be as lucky as Julie. And they know it. The courage these people show in the face of a devastating diagnosis is enough to bring me to tears.
I went home wrestling with some big questions. I understand I will never know why bad things happen to good people. I have made peace with that. What I want to know is what I can do that will make any sort of difference to someone going through such a difficult time.
Then I got a message from a woman named Bonnie who reminded me that even if we can’t fix a situation, we can smooth some of the rough spots.
Ten years ago, our 17-year-old daughter was diagnosed with a tumor in her pituitary gland. We were looking at multiple tests and trips to the Mayo Clinic, and eventually brain surgery, and then our washing machine broke down.
“Facing one more bill in the midst of the emotional turmoil of our daughter’s diagnosis was more than I could bear. I made the comment out loud that I didn’t care if I washed clothes on a rock but I wasn’t going to charge one more thing on our credit card.
“When we received a bill from the company that came out to deliver our washing machine’s death sentence, I decided to temporarily ignore the envelope until I could pay them.
“Sometime later, I got a call from this business spelling out to me that what I received was actually a credit. The woman on the phone explained that I was to come pick out a new washing machine fully paid for by an anonymous donor. The instructions were also to let me know not to get the cheapest one I could, but to get a ‘good’ one with features that I wanted.
“I wept right on the phone when that angel delivered the news, while wondering who would do such a thing. The nice lady on the phone would not tell me who did it.
“It’s 10 years later, and our daughter is a trauma nurse in Texas. Today is her wedding day, and she is back home to walk down the aisle.
“My prayer for Nathan and Nicole is to wish blessings on them that God would continue to care for their every need, even in hard times and that God would abundantly bless that dear person who met our need in a very difficult time.”
Thank you, Bonnie, for reminding me that we are here to be the light in times of darkness.
And thank you, Julie, for working so hard to help other brain tumor patients. You have turned your darkest hour into a mission that shines so brightly with your love.
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Nicole J Phillips is a former television anchor for Fox News in Fargo. She is an author, speaker and mother of three kids. Nicole is married to Bison men’s head basketball coach Saul Phillips. Her columns run every Saturday.