How many times have you heard the saying: “You can’t control what happens to you, but you can control how you react to it”? How easy is it for you to take that advice? For most, myself included, remaining tough in the face of adversity is incredibly difficult and mentally exhausting. It can do just about anybody in…but Jessie Wharton isn’t just anybody.
At 16 years old, Jessie was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. She made it through her treatment and came out on the other side victorious…only to relapse in her early 20’s.
The first time around, Jessie stayed as strong as she could, with her incredible family supporting her yet a little unsure how to handle the situation at such a young age. At 24-years old, when her scans came back revealing the cancer had returned, Jessie was dumbfounded. It was not supposed to happen again. She’d won once, why did she have to go through it again?
Being faced with this new reality, Jessie had a choice to make: to either be the victor or the victim of her story.
On the day she learned her diagnosis in 2015, Jessie turned to a woman whom has been there with her through everything: her mom. Knowing firsthand the impossibility of accomplishing something without a loving support system behind you, Jessie turned to this woman whom she trusted would not fail her…and, of course, her mother pulled through in the greatest way possible.
“24 hours,” she said.
Jessie’s mom allotted them 24-hours of sadness, anger, frustration, despair, crying out to God, watching useless television, and eating massive amounts of junk food. The key here, though, was that at the culmination of the 24-hours, they were not allowed to turn back. At 24 hours and 1 minute, they were to begin figuring out a way to move forward and defeat the unforgiving monster that is cancer.
Defeat for Jessie, though, wasn’t just beating cancer for a second time before her 25th birthday, it came from choosing how she would lead her life from here on out. How would she present herself to the world? Would she lament about the lot given to her in this life? Or would she prove that light can shine through in even the darkest places, so long as your faith and your will are resilient enough?
You better believe the unstoppable Jessie chose the latter.
I write today in the hopes that you see the beauty in Jessie’s story, and that being sad is, in fact, allowed. Even after your 24-hours are up, you are allowed to get angry and feel distraught…but you can’t return to the hole from whence you came. You have to climb, little by little, every single day, until you reach the top and pull yourself from the wreckage of those horrible things that are beyond your control. As you do this, never forget the importance of surrounding yourself with those who will hoist you up, throw a rope down, and help you see that there indeed is a light, even when you struggle find it.
As Jessie continues to climb and shine her smiling light upon the world, we celebrate her as this week marks one full year of her scans coming back clear.
Jessie Wharton epitomizes what it means to keep moving forward, and I am honored to be in a world constantly filled with the sunshine she emits.
Keep Moving Forward LIVE Interview with Jessie Wharton!
Posted by Keep Moving Forward on Monday, December 12, 2016