“My heart is full…”—and mine is overflowing


We often never know how the ripples of lives impact others, how the choices we make in a split second or made time and time again in the quiet moments of our lives affect the greater good.  We don’t often get to know first-hand the impact of the words we speak or how our willingness to pull back the curtain of our own lives, exposing our “realness”—pretty or not—can effect those around us.  But the gift of what I do now, this new journey I’ve embarked on, is that people are gracious enough to share with me how my life, what I’ve been through and how I have chosen to share it, impacts theirs.  Due to the required isolation of my treatments, much of what I went through was in a vacuum and, interestingly, much of what I do now is as well.  So whenever I get an email like the one below, I light up on the inside at knowing that people “get” what I’m doing and why I’m doing it.  I honestly don’t know if there are words adequate enough to describe what it feels like to hear something like this or how unbelievably humbling it is to know that you can help another on their journey simply by sharing yours.  To realize that by daring to hold my little light up, I can somehow help to illuminate another’s path just as others have helped to illuminate mine…passing hope and love on and on and on. That’s what it’s really all about, anyway, right??  Getting just one of these emails makes me know that I’m doing exactly what I’m meant to and gives me all I need to keep going, holding my light up higher and straighter for all to see.

So it is with great humbleness that I share the email below, with permission of course, not as a way to shine a spotlight on myself, but as a way to share with you the impact we can have on each other as we all walk along a common path.  I had tears of gratitude streaming down my face as I read this for the preciousness of its gift and that someone would take the time to speak the beautiful words of their heart aloud for me to hear.

“Sweet Alyssa~

To tell you that I have been completely moved and affected by your story is an understatement.  It’s taken me a week to even be able to write you simply because I’m so in awe and inspired by your strength that i wasn’t sure I could even articulate it in words.  After getting your friend request and going to your page I was completely blindsided with the reality of what you’ve been through and how you’ve overcome what you have.  Since that moment I have literally spent all of my free time at work reading your website and blog and thinking about the power of faith and prayer and the wonder of miracles.

Lauren’s passing has never left my mind or my heart.  She was the first friend I ever lost and it was at such an influential time in our lives.  At 18 or 19 years old you think you’re invincible and Lauren’s death was such a giant lesson for me about the frailty of life and how each moment we’re given on this earth should be appreciated and embraced to the fullest.  I remember thinking that then and I still think about it now.  I have the same relationship with my sister that you did with Lauren and to imagine losing her was and is beyond my comprehension.  I remember your speech at Lauren’s memorial at Wesley and I remember crying with you over her passing.  And I remember being in awe of your strength and wondering if i would have been able to move forward had something happened to either of my siblings.  I couldn’t imagine having to handle anything worse than that, so to then read about your journey with cancer and how you beat a 1% chance of survival has truly and utterly left me speechless.

There really are no words to express how it feels to be on the outside of your world looking in.  I can’t imagine in any way, shape or form what life has been like for you and yet i feel so connected to the insight and encouragement you’re putting out into the world.  I have found a strong faith over the years and know that the foundation of what you believe and trust in is a large part of what i relate to, but it’s more than that.  It’s because you’re using your story differently than many people with a powerful story to share often do.  I find nothing preachy about your words, I find them inspiring.  And while I know a strong faith lies behind them, I believe that you have nothing more than pure motivations in encouraging others to honestly “love harder & live bolder”.  It is really amazing, Alyssa, and completely refreshing.  your story, your positivity, your faith, your journey, your strength, your smile — all of those things and more have had an instant impact on my perspective of life.  For example, I’m training for my first marathon right now and have some problems with my left knee that upsets me and discourages me when I’m dealing with the pain.  But the first thing I thought about the other day on my long run, when I was hurting and feeling tired and nauseous, was you.  I pictured you not even being able to leave your house for a walk and it made me so grateful to be out running around Central Park, knee pain and all.  I don’t tell you that to be cheesy or bring attention to myself, I tell you that because I want you to know that you really are making a difference.

It’s always interesting in life how our plans often don’t match up to the plans God has in store for us, isn’t it?  Your story is a shining example of that and yet instead of throwing in the towel and giving up (which I think I might do myself if faced with all that you have) you trusted and believed that His timing and plan for your life was exactly the right one for you.  And that trust and faith is pouring out of you now as you embrace it and share it with the world.  It is more wonderful than I can express, Alyssa, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for how you’re turning such darkness into such light.

I have shared your story with my closest friends and family and have encouraged them to read your blog and “like” your FB page because there are so many things people can learn from you outside of just your main message.  For example, I was talking to my friend the other day and she mentioned how glad she was to have gone to your page because she was enjoying the health tips you put up.  She has a 1-year-old little girl and said she put cinnamon in her sweet potatoes this week because you mentioned how good cinnamon is for your body!  She said she was happy to have a resource she felt she could trust for health/nutrition advice.  I thought that was really cool — I’ve been focused on how you’ve impacted me so to hear a completely different, positive effect like that was really neat. So simple yet so great.

My heart is full, Alyssa.  and it’s people like you who serve as a reminder to focus on all of the wonderful things in my life that I DO have and not the things I don’t have. thank you, thank you, thank you.  It has been many years since we’ve been in touch and yet I believe that reconnecting with you at this particular point in my life is exactly what I needed in so many ways.

I look forward to all that awaits you and can assure you that I am rooting for you, praying for you and supporting you in it all.  And I wanted to share this verse with you because it’s one of my favorites and one that I feel is so fitting for your life and the journey you’re on:

“For we are His handiwork, created in Chris Jesus for the deeds he designed in advance for us to do.  Ephesians 2:10”

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One Comment

  1. Michelle Mason
    Posted September 19, 2011 at 9:22 pm | Permalink

    I too am in awe of what you (Alyssa) are paying forward to so many people on so many levels. I am a fellow cancer survivor, your words and understanding of the experience are so profound. Your writing is so beautiful and although I identify with what you are expressing I would never be able to write the experience so open and beautifully. Thank you Alyssa for putting yourself out there and making a mark in this world and a difference in the lives of others.

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