Look to the Hills: Words of Encouragement from a Cancer Survivor to an MS Warrior

Look to the Hills: Words of Encouragement from a Cancer Survivor to an MS Warrior

Patiently Awakened

We endured another devastating loss this week. My beloved sister-in-law, a cancer survivor whom I affectionately called sister, passed away.

Although we knew her disease was terminal, she passed away unexpectedly in her sleep. Death is never easy, and no matter how much we try, we cannot entirely prepare for it. We don’t want our loved ones to depart. It is agonizing to imagine the physical separation.

As I reflect on the life of my sister-in-law, the lessons she taught me will abide. Her faith never wavered, regardless of how grave her situation was or appeared to be. Each time we spoke, I was met with encouragement and never a complaint. She was the epitome of a survivor and I am grateful that she graced the Earth. I feel privileged that I was allowed to share my journey with her in my life. The intent of this week’s column is to encourage you to keep the faith in the face of peril, to remind you that every day we live is borrowed time, and to avow that love never dies.

The cancer diagnosis was devastating to my sister-in-law, her children and the rest of our family. She lamented the loss of life as she knew it and began the journey to fight the long, mountainous battle with courage. Throughout the course of our illnesses, she and I shared conversations, readily reassuring one another. Aside from being family, we had an intimate bond. Chronic Illness strengthened our relationship, offering companionship, empathy, and understanding in the eyes of one another.

When I received my MS diagnosis, I asked her, “How can I fight this, too?” She lovingly told me to “look to the hills,” words recited from a biblical quote. My sister-in-law was a deeply spiritual woman. We prayed together, talked about our faith and shared our favorite biblical scriptures. A firm believer in having no more than we can bear, I never witnessed her have a “woe is me” moment. I cannot say the same. She witnessed several of my outcries inquiring, “Why me?” I recall her soft, calm voice telling me that I am strong enough to handle whatever comes my way. She encouraged me to never give up and to never lose hope. She said that my entire life is a reflection of grace, blessings, and mercy.

While writing this, tears are flowing as I imagine looking into her eyes. She is etched in my heart and memory. Although we will never see each other again in this life, I’m comforted in knowing that we will meet again in the next one. My sister-in-law’s passing deeply saddens me, yet, I rejoice knowing that she is free from pain and suffering. She leaves a rich legacy by way of her children, grandchildren, and all of the lives she has touched.

If my sister-in-law could speak to me, she would say, “Don’t cry, little sister. I am OK.” She would urge me to go on with my life and live each day to the fullest. As I recount the times spent with her, I pray for the strength to live as gracefully as she did, in wellness and illness, and to never stop fighting. I am praying for the strength to stand with my family and hold them tighter.

Again, life has reminded me that it is fleeting. Most of us believe we live from day to day. In truth, we live from moment to moment. We never know when our last moment will come. Love well, forgive one another, encourage often, and live each day to the fullest. Embrace life, my fellow MS warriors, survivors, and friends. Let’s live while we have the chance. Even death cannot sever true love.

“I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.” (Psalms 121:1)

You are invited to visit my website at teresawrightjohnson.com.

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Note: Multiple Sclerosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Multiple Sclerosis News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to multiple sclerosis.

 

16 comments

  1. A Stupendous, profound, and poignant dedication to a true warrior. The words that death could not sever true love resonated with me because I believe true love is eternal. May God be with us forever and ever.

    • Teresa Wright-Johnson says:

      Dear Marvin,
      Thank you so much for your sentiment. I truly appreciate you. Death will never sever true love and God will bless us forever and ever.

    • Teresa Wright-Johnson says:

      Dear Juanita,
      Thank you so much for your sentiment. My sister-in-law was amazing! Look to the hills. I treasure these words because on really difficult days, I look up, knowing where my help comes from. God Bless You.

  2. Matthew Coil says:

    Thank you for this beautiful message. I just returned from visiting my 89 year old mother that lives 500 miles away. She fell and broke her leg and it is very serious. My 93 year old dad cannot care for her anymore and it makes him sad. They live together in a care facility but we are approaching the end for both of them. They are looking forward to seeing their two daughters that passed away from MS. They also have two living children fighting the good fight against MS and 13 grandchildren that are all receiving heavy doses of MS medications for MS. This disease is devastating my family but we all have a strong faith that mortality is temporary and heaven is eternal so we will be reunited with our families. Yes, look to the hills.

    • Teresa Wright-Johnson says:

      Hi Matthew,
      Thanks for reading the column and for sharing your story. You touched me. Life can be so difficult at times. It is arduous to see our oved ones sick and to know there is nothing we can do about it. Continue to look to the hills and keep hope alive We may not know what tomorrow will bring, but we know who holds tomorrow. This is how I can get through some days. Continue to keep the faith and look to the hills. I pray for strength and mercy for you, your parents, and the entire family. God Bless You.

    • Teresa Wright-Johnson says:

      Hi Rashmi,
      Thanks for reading the column and for your positive accolades and sentiment. I appreciate you. God Bless You.

  3. Doug Tagg says:

    Thank you for sharing such a personal experience of your loss and the strength that you received from your sister in law. I was diagnosed with M.S. in 2016 and I am continually amazed by the gifts of strength and solace from those that are or have been in my life.

    • Teresa Wright-Johnson says:

      Dear Tagg,
      Thanks for reading the column and for allowing me to share my personal experiences. MS is a difficult disease yet I, too, am amazed by my mental fortitude, God’s grace and mercy and some really good friends and family in my support system. Stay blessed and take care of yourself.

  4. Kipperly says:

    Dear Teresa,
    What a beautiful column and tribute to your beloved “sister.” I am so glad that she was in your life and that you are able to so eloquently pass on to us the lessons you learned through your relationship with her. Thank you for sharing, even during your time of grieving. I am very sorry for your loss. I will say a prayer for you and your family. May your loving memories comfort you and give you strength when you need them.
    Much love, Kipperly

    • Teresa Wright-Johnson says:

      Dear Kipperly,
      Thank you for your encouraging words and prayers. I really appreciate you. Blessings to you and yours.

  5. Joe L says:

    If I were your sister, which is impossible because I am a man, I would say pray, have faith and then seek out HSCT whever you can or however you can. That is any one with any form of MS at this time. Period. If you go beyond certain ages or EDSS .8 it’s too late. Don’t be a snake charmer temping your faith, read and use your gut and avoid handling the beast in the first place 🙏🏽

    • Teresa Wright-Johnson says:

      Hi Joe,
      Thank you for reading the column and sharing your thoughts. I will continue to have faith, pray, follow my gut and work with medical professionals in making the best healthcare choices for me. Blessings to you and yours.

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