Birthdays are Precious Moments

I need to send a birthday shout out to Nick Rychcik who turned 10 years old today! Birthdays are the moments that our amazing children come into our lives, when siblings, cousins, nephews, nieces, and grandchildren are made. 

Can’t help but love that smile!
For a year and a half Nick has been battling cancer and I have to say he has shown bravery, courage, and a will to live his life in the way he wants. My family and I have been blessed with getting to know Nick and his entire family very well. I connect with his mom, Kelly, multiple times a week and I see Nick’s struggle and his frustration when he doesn’t feel well. 
But through all his painful treatments, side effects, uncertainty about the future, and inability to sometimes do what a 10-year-old should be doing, Nick smiles. It’s quite an infectious smile. Nick doesn’t focus on his illness, he looks forward to what he can do at school, when he gets home, or during the upcoming weekend, and further.
Nick hanging at a Shen soccer game where he was honored.
His resilience and positive attitude sustains him. His family’s strength and faith holds him up, but his courageous spirit allows him to get the most out of every single day. Isn’t that what we should all be doing? Sometimes it takes a wonderful young man to show us the way.
Nick at a Union Baseball game. He sat in the dugout with the team.
Nick, we wish you a very Happy Birthday filled with lots of love, laughter, cake and presents! Know that a community is sending you their strength and wishes for a lifetime of birthdays!

A Little Faith Goes a Long Way

For me, faith is believing in the unknown and that a higher power is guiding me through my life’s journey. For Nick Bowen, faith is knowing that God has a plan for him and that his family will always back him up as he pursues that plan.  It took a huge leap of faith to believe that he would be healed when Nick nearly died from a brain hemorrhage at age 11.  Nick Bowen is featured in Chapter Two of my book What Makes Them Amazing: Inspiring Stories of Young Adults Fighting Cancer.

Many years have passed since that Father’s Day when his family almost lost him.  Today Nick is a successful 24-year-old who lives with inoperable tumors.  Knowing that life can be taken away as quickly as it has been given, Nick lives his life filled with passion, laughter and love for his family and those that need his support.  Looking at Nick you don’t have to ask if he’s angry with his lot in life, with God’s plan for him–it’s plain to see that he has embraced his cancer, his life, his plan.  He doesn’t waste energy on the past, the what if’s, why me, or what will happen tomorrow.  He lives his life today and it’s freeing.

Nick Bowen (center) with his brother Ben speaking to guests at the book launch for What Makes Them Amazing.

Perhaps we can learn something from him. I know that one young lady may have been influenced. For the second time in four years, Brianna Chase is fighting Leukemia. Her family lives in Hudson, NY, but Brianna and her mother have been living in NYC as she received a bone marrow transplant.  Despite continual complications, illnesses, and pain, Brianna has found strength through her family and friends to keep fighting.  She also has looked to her faith to get her through. 

Brianna just recently found out that despite having new cells coursing through her body, she would have to receive 11 more months of chemotherapy.  This news nearly broke her. Of course we all want to live, but how does a 15-year-old find the strength to keep fighting, to feel good about herself, her body, and her time away from her family?  The morning after Brianna told her mom she didn’t want to do this anymore, she woke up revived, renewed, and resisting negativity.  I don’t know what went through Brianna’s mind that night, but I’m sure she did a lot of soul searching, praying, and deciding how she was going to live her life. 

Brianna shines as she takes a walk enjoying the fresh air after a long journey through a bone marrow transplant.

This photo was taken after Brianna decided she wanted to do what was needed to live a full and purposeful life.  It was also the first time she was out in public without a wig.  Her spirit is glowing and her zest for life is apparent.  Having faith in ourselves and a higher power allows us to embrace our purpose. When we can truly embrace our lives and all that comes with it, we are free to enjoy the present moment and heal our lives. 

Brianna and Nick are two precious young adults who have faith that they can beat cancer and live the life they are meant to lead.  So when you are faced with anything in life that threatens to beat you down, have a little faith that you have what it takes to get through.  Both Nick and Brianna will probably add that praying can only help.

To learn more about Brianna’s continued journey go to Support Brianna Chase