Jace Ward was only 19 years old when he went to see the doctor. He knew something was wrong, but he wasn't expecting the diagnosis he got. He was told that he had "diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma," or DIPG, a cancer that ravages the part of the brain that controls essential body functions. In other words, Jace had an inoperable brain tumor that was going to kill him well ahead of what anyone his age would normally expect.
Doctors estimated that he had about 9 months to live. Over the years I've seen others receive a prognosis of a certain number of weeks or months to live for some sort of cancer, only to kind of give up and not even make it as long as the doctor estimates. But Jace made it well beyond the 9 months; he lived for 26 months after his diagnosis. And he really made the most of what time he had.
In fact, what he said when he was first told about his brain tumor is why I am highlighting his story here. In the minutes after his diagnosis, he said, "I'm not afraid to die, I know where I'm going to go. I'm just afraid I won't have time to make an impact before I die. And that matters to me."
I simply marvel at the attitude of this 19-year-old. He had a strong faith, so felt an assurance of God's presence and of heaven when he died. But it is his determination to make the most of his short time on this earth that made the biggest impression on me. He used those 26 months to advocate for people with cancer, especially those with DIPG, which typically affects children ages 4 to 11. What an inspiration he was.
So the question I have is: How are you and I using our time to be an inspiration and to make an impact? Sometimes it just seems like we have all the time in the world. And compared to Jace, most of us will have much more time to do something significant and make a difference. But are we using our time for that purpose? Are we welcoming each day with a sense of urgency to do the most we can to help others?
Something for us to think about perhaps as we move further through this season of Lent (don't forget about our study tonight at 7:00, with a light dinner at 6:00, and every Tuesday night during Lent) and as we consider the life of this remarkable young man, Jace Ward.
Grace and Hope to you,