Overcoming adversity or other challenges of life is something we have all experienced in one form or another. Have you ever been anxious or worried about a final exam at school, or something more serious like the challenge of a significant health crisis, or being in combat mode in a war and surviving?
We may think of warriors as our family and friends in the military and/or veterans of military service. It is true and certainly fitting to address the warrior spirit necessary to overcome adversity on the 239th birthday of the US Marine Corps, and Veterans Day, right around the corner.
As a US Marine Corps combat veteran I share something sacred with my fellow combat veterans/warriors, and that is every one of us decided to become this kind of warrior out of love of family, country, honor, duty, and mission. Embracing the legacy of sacrifice, as did our forefathers, as an obligation, supporting the idea that every man, woman, and child has the right to be free to live a full, robust life…And a willingness to sacrifice one’s life if needed, as it says in scripter: “Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”
Based on this perspective there are warriors all around us, inspiring us as they battle other enemies—like cancer, as an example—veterans of the war to survive and thrive have equally inspiring stories of gallantry in the face of death. The inspiration happens anytime courageous souls face adversity, both the ones who overcame it and lived on and beautifully those who faced that same adversity and did not.
Elyn Jacobs—teacher, counselor, author, and warrior for empowerment and awareness of how to survive cancer beautifully—is one such inspiring person. Elyn had her bout with breast cancer a number of years ago, overcame it, and did something else as remarkable. Elyn’s own battle and personal experience and story compelled her on her mission and life’s work: to empower all women who would be facing this same issue to have a solid plan and opportunity to be fully armed to battle this enemy, and beautifully survive—not just overcome cancer, but to beat cancer. Elyn’s work on her website http://elynjacobs.com/ and weekly radio broadcast “Survive and Live Well” is an ongoing tribute to her tireless efforts to bring hope to thousands of women and their families. One of Elyn’s core educating points: “If You Don’t Know All Your Options, You Don’t Have Any.”
Our next warrior and true hero is Ryan McElroy. Ryan was born on September 11, 1993. In 1995, he was diagnosed with stage four ewing sarcoma, a rare bone cancer. Ryan fought with bravery, and this little warrior did not let his disease stop him from playing baseball, riding his bike, or wrestling with his sister, Tralee, in their living room. Everyone would say Ryan is one of the toughest and loving little boys they knew. Ryan went through more at four years old than most people do in a lifetime. From chemotherapy and hospital stays to trips to Lourdes, France, Ryan and his family never gave up. Everyone that knew Ryan was touched by his innocence and his never-give-up attitude, and a smile that would light up any room.
On August 29th 1998, as his family lovingly said, “God wanted Ryan to join him in Heaven. Ryan is in Heaven looking down upon all of us.” Even though Ryan lost the earthly battle with this disease his amazing bravery, determination, and spirit inspired and created The Ryan McElroy Children’s Cancer Foundation to help other children and their families fighting with life-threatening illnesses. Everyday Ryan’s spirit lives on and he will never be forgotten, because he continues to inspire us to fight the good fight so others can live. Ryan’s story gives an inspiring real-world meaning to “no greater love than to lay your life down for your friends.” Bravo Ryan. Donations are welcome at: http://www.ryansfoundation.org/donate
By Lou Paradise