Words I support.


I’m tired of people romanticizing overexertion. Exhausted is not the new chic. Coffee (though {sometimes} a delicious necessity) is not a food group, and running on fumes is not admirable. Why do we hold pedestals for sleepless nights, break downs and inner turmoil? Are those things really to aspire to? Self care, balance, the ability to ¬†know when your body, mind, and spirit need to take a step back. Those are things we should admire. We have to stop blurring the line between ‘commitment’ and self endangerment, because too many people are burning out before they have a chance to truly shine.Exertion

…because love wins.

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Why you should let people go.


A little while ago there was an app called “Who Deleted Me?” It was designed by Anthony Kuske, whose Twitter profile says he’s from the UK and “makes websites and stuff.” This app was one of those things. The purpose of said app was to do just that – tell people who had deleted them on facebook.

Facebook is a weird, strange, awesome, and dumb thing all at once. We get to connect with anyone virtually anywhere around the world. But at the same time, we can also see all kinds of things that are left to our own imagination. Because let’s be honest – no one is as happy as their profile picture all of the time. And thinking they are can ruin your life.

So then what do we do when one of our used-to-be best friends decides they’re done and we’re not friends anymore? And then what happens when you find that out through a crazy little app? Well, if you cared, it probably sucks pretty badly. If you don’t, you’ll probably have an easier time with what I’m about to say.

If someone doesn’t want to love you, or be your friend, or doesn’t build you up even when they are your friend, it’s time to let them go. Yeah, not that easy, right? Well, it sort of is.

Why would you want to be friends with an enemy you have? Would you call up the kid who picked on you in second grade and ask them to be your best friend? No, I certainly don’t think you would. Sorry to say, but when your friend walked away (and in a dramatic way like a facebook delete to prove a point without a real conversation) they entered the same category. Either they didn’t appreciate you, or they think they will have a better life elsewhere.

I’ve had people die in my life, and I’ve had people walk away. When I was younger, both destroyed me. Now, only death hurts me. Because I only keep camp with the people who I really know love me and who will let me love them back. And it’s okay to know that someone walking away isn’t your fault. It’s the walking person’s fault.

So, if they walked away, don’t chase them. And don’t let them come back. If they cared, and they were someone to want around, they never would have left to begin with. You’re worth more than being someone’s option. They chose to have you let them go, so let them go. And don’t apologize for knowing your worth.

Strong is beautiful – you are beautiful. Smile and do something you love. Because you weren’t worth letting go.

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…because love wins.

17 things I learned in the 17 years since I was diagnosed with childhood cancer.


March 11, 1998.

We never forget the days that change our lives. We never forget the moments that change our lives, as a matter of fact. I had one of those on that day. I haven’t forgotten it. I never will.

I had been walking with a limp for about 3 weeks. I was a totally healthy, vivacious, excited little girl. Here’s a picture!

Age 6. :)

Age 6. ūüôā

See? Right? Totally healthy. But that knee pain I had wouldn’t go away.

On March 11th, 7:35am, I was walking to the school bus. About halfway there, I fell down. There was a serious sharp pain in my left knee. I remember thinking I didn’t want to look dumb (classic 3rd grade thought process) and it hurt. A lot a lot a lot. The bus was waiting, and it was a shorter distance to get on the bus than to go home, so I got on the bus. I went through my day, limping along, trying not to walk. I have no idea how I was even moving at all.

We had an appointment scheduled with my family doctor that afternoon. When I walked into the office, he told me that he hadn’t seen anyone ever limp like that. The reason? My femur was shattered. The reason?

Bone cancer.

I was 7 years old. I played basketball and giggled and tried to avoid going to sleep at night.

Cancer?

CANCER?

The next day started 49 weeks of chemotherapy, the removal of my leg and a procedure called Rotationplasty (You can learn about that here.) and way too many sharp needles, anesthesia and brokenhearted moments than I can consciously remember or that I should have had to go through as a human being, regardless of age.

So, in honor of the days that I have lived (happily) since then, I want to share with you 17 things that I have learned since March 11, 1998.

1. Life is short. 
Not in the cliche, “Yeah, people say that all the time…” way, but in the “Don’t wait until someone you love is dead in a car accident before you figure this out.” way. Seriously, it can all end right now, and you need to not worry what everyone thinks of you or feel bad when people don’t like you. Choose the way you want to live those short days and then do that. Live, please.

2. Kids die. 
And it sucks. It sucks way worse than someone who has lived to 80 years-old dying. I’m not saying any one life is more important than another, but I am telling you that burying my best friends (4 of them) by the age of 12 is horrendous and wrong. It’s so so so so wrong. Parents should not have to live all the years their kids were supposed to without them. Which leads me to…

3. There is a pathetic amount of money allotted for childhood cancer research. 
I had 49 weeks of poison (chemotherapy) that potentially ruined my heart, potentially took my ability to have children, and certainly made me throw up burning vomit way too many times. The saddest part is that it’s been 17 years and kids today are still taking the exact same awful drugs. With an 80% survival rate. (Which I would say is definitely much lower than 80.) And they haven’t figured out why a lot of my friends never lived and I did. There aren’t many people who took this stuff and grew into adulthood, so there’s not really a way for me to know what my future related to this stuff will bring. Please help. Follow this facebook page and do what it says: TheTruth365.

4. Haters are gonna hate.
There is a saying that goes something like, “In the world people are going to hate you, and people are going to love you, and none of it has anything to do with you.” People make bad choices when they’re mad or scared or stressed. (Thanks, Frozen!) So be graceful and don’t worry too much.

5. God is everywhere. 
You just have to let yourself listen. Even when the truth hurts. Especially when the truth hurts.

6. Illness isn’t terrifying.
Sometimes it is, I suppose, but for anyone who is the friend of someone with a chronic or serious illness, don’t leave said person or family alone. And don’t be upset if they want space or you say the wrong thing. But answer the phone at 2am, expect nothing, give real hugs, and be willing to be whatever they need.

7. You should love yourself. 
There is a complex that tends to come after someone has been through a near-death experience which includes putting everyone else first. And then putting everyone else first until that person is basically dead from never paying attention to themselves. So it’s good to take care of yourself. Paint and laugh and don’t let people use you. You deserve the best too.

8. I am handicapped. 
Lots of people are. In fact, we all are – face the fact. We all have something really wrong with our broken souls. And I think that’s a really important thing to remember when someone can’t help themselves and you have the opportunity to love them.

9. It’s not easy to talk about pain.¬†
I’m a professional speaker, but that doesn’t mean that it’s easy to talk through the agony that I experienced. There’s this fine line between people wanting to hear the truth and people thinking you’re asking for pity by sharing what you’ve felt. Pay no attention to those people. If you have pain, talk about it. If they choose not to listen, they lose.

10. People won’t always leave, and they won’t always leave you.
There’s my greatest fear. Now you know that. (Yay vulnerable!) I’m sure this grew from holding my friends’ hands while they died and thinking I would never be fully understood again, but in the years since that and some wonderful people in my life, I have learned that people won’t always leave. And I have learned that some people really really want to stay and love me if I let them be inside my heart. Give people a chance.

11. Healthy food isn’t just a fad.¬†Tubing 2
Having a life threatening illness was pretty awful. But it also benefited me in great ways. Because I don’t like toxins because of that experience, I avoid them. And I am pretty particular about taking care of myself with what I put inside my body. And I know I live a more full, happier life because of it. Eat less Doritos and more broccoli. It’s worth it!

12. Downtime is not wasted time.
I laid in my bed for a really long time when I was sick. Like, about a year. And it’s clear that that time has not been wasted, even though I was doing nothing for 49 weeks. You’re human. Slow down. Life will come to you.

13. Sometimes hope just doesn’t feel real.¬†
There will be times in your life where you can’t hope. Where you realize that the thing that you have been hoping for for so long just isn’t going to happen. And that’s okay. Give up, cry, get mad, do whatever you need to do. Just because we don’t think there is hope doesn’t mean there isn’t. And it doesn’t mean that the days won’t get brighter again. They will.

14. Tie your brain to your heart. 
If you want to do something that really helps people, don’t just dream. Figure out what skills you need to tangibly do the work. For example, if you want to travel the world and feed homeless, start learning languages now. If you want to start a business, learn how to start a business. And then put your heart into your intellect.

15. Don’t take boredom for granted.¬†
I remember being 15 and telling my parents I was bored. But then I realized that I may be bored because my life is just okay at that time. And it’s not falling apart. And that means there’s goodness – and that’s not boring at all.

16. Bad things can still be bad years later, but they don’t have to rule you.¬†
I realize that there are some things from cancer which totally left me with PTSD. That’s the reality for my life, and I’ve accepted it. That’s pretty lame, but so are tsunamis, and I haven’t been through one of those. And some other people have to accept them in their lives. So it’s okay to not like things that happened to you. But that doesn’t mean they are in your now, or that they will take you down. Nah, there’s always healing, and always growth. And you’re good now. Just learn and live.

17. Jesus loves you. Jesus
I have tried this one out. I have searched the depth of my heart and society many times. I have watched people die, kids without parents in hospitals, and kids around the world who have no medical care and die just because of that. And there is still love – and love is the currency we should really use. Jesus is the only way to God, and there is one God, and He is Jesus’ father. And you know what? Whether you know it or not, He loves you. And He’s going to come back. Don’t wait to talk to him until your life doesn’t make sense anymore. Someone will always, always love you.

Here’s to 17 more years!

Love to you all.

…because love wins.

In the Hall of Fame.


ImageOften in life, as a leader of many who is also a young adult, I’ve had a lot of lash back. Not that people didn’t like what I was doing, or didn’t want to walk alongside me, but that people often times didn’t (and don’t) believe what I am saying or that why I am acting is genuine.

But the reality is, even in this broken world, some people are still honest. And some people really do still care about you. And they don’t do things half way. They are loyal. They will come in the middle of the night – probably with your favorite tray of cookies.

And they aren’t here to push you under or away.

In the midst of bombings in Boston and explosions in Texas and entire countries unaware of the outside world because of tyrants, be a sparkle. Be a light. Don’t let people who aren’t genuine make you think that you can’t be either.

It’s that kind of thing that gets you in the hall of fame.

…because love wins.

How to be happy.


1.      Enjoy simplicity.

2.      Smile as much as possible.

3.      Live for today.

4.      Love each other.

5.      Watch the sunset.

6.      Read hundreds of books.

7.      Listen to great music.

8.      Love yourself.

9.      Learn from your mistakes.

10.  Understand that no one is perfect.

11.  Eat ice cream in summer.

12.  Build a snow fort.

13.  Act like a kid again.

14.  Take nothing for gratnted.

15.  Live up to your expectations.

…because love wins.

Meet Kaden Tjossem.


This is Kaden.

You may remember him from a previous blog post. He’s a very old 5 years old this year. I met him a little over a year ago, when he was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma, the same cancer I had 14 years ago. The cancer is a rare form of bone cancer and resulted in us both having Rotationplasty.

He allows me the time to be a part of his life and laughs with me while we play. He fights strong, he’s kind, sweet, and loves his parents. He is a pro video gamer, and has learned to walk as well as me at the age of five. He’s the hero of many, and he is the version of honest that makes the world’s hearts smile.

This Thanksgiving, Kaden is still battling his cancer hard. After it came back, he told me that it was, and that he didn’t want to have to be in the hospital. He wanted to play with his puppy and be a 5 year old. I want that for him too.

You can join in prayer and encouragement of Kaden’s journey by following their new page on facebook:¬†Prayers and Love for Kaden. Kids should not have cancer, and while we work on fixing that, let’s also work on making sure these families facing this atrocity never do it alone.

This holiday season, give your joy and prayers, away.

…because love wins.

*Kaden and I met through an organization near and dear to my heart, Brighter Tomorrows. Feel free to find out more about non-profit here.

Live life like Make-A-Wish.


Some of my good friends are going on their Make-A-Wish trip today. They texted me from their airplane and I could almost hug the joy through the 136 characters on that screen. I wanted to jump up and down for them and scream for happiness and throw rainbows in the air and dance a little too. That’s how exciting this is. And not just because they’re going here:

That’s a Disney Cruise, in case you didn’t know.

Do let me explain.

For those of you who have never heard of Make-A-Wish, it is an organization that grants wishes to children with life threatening or critical illnesses. When the medical world is able to give physical help, Make-A-Wish gives a one time, unforgettable object or event and a major set of smiles. Some children meet Justin Bieber. Some children have their rooms re-designed. And a large majority go to Disney World. Whatever the wish is, it is the choice of the ill child, and it will surely be unlike any experience they have ever had before. They will be treated like royalty, and appropriately given one thing that was seemingly impossible before.

This isn’t the exact one, but you get the idea.

13 years ago in September, I remember my excitement sitting on the airplane for my Make-A-Wish Trip. I had never flown before, just as my wish-kid friend mentioned above has not (Well, now he has, seeing that they should be well landed at this point.) and I remember nearly exploding with excitement about the experience that laid ahead of me. Most importantly though, I remember being so thankful to have my family with me away from a hospital. For just one week, I had everything I had wanted – just to be together.

The thing about cancer or any chronic illness is that it takes a lot from a family. Most specifically Рit takes time Рin so many ways. I know it seems like those are just cliche words on the screen to you, but I mean that with the depth of my aching heart.

For that reason, these days, I tend to live everything as though it were my greatest wish. Because in reality, every day is. I love airplanes and vacation, but also, anywhere I can be healthy and with my family is a continuation of my Make-A-Wish trip. As my friends will surely tell you, there is no other way to live, and no reason not to.

Simply put, living is a matter of appreciation. Join us! ūüôā

…because love wins

*Shanna Decker is a an old soul. Spending nearly two decades personally mentoring families with childhood cancer, she has learned how to turn the most tragic of situations into pure triumph. She is a professional speaker, non-profit co-founder and coordinator, and would love to come present for your event! Learn more about her and contact her on her website.

An ode to my 5 year old battle partner.


I walked down the halls of the children’s hospital carrying a small prosthetic leg just 17 years smaller than mine. Its owner and I have almost everything in common.

We know how to be out of control.
We know pain.
We know joy.
We know what it means to understand how terrible cancer is.
We know why kindness matters.
We know why our stuffed animals are so important.
We know why we tell our moms we love them.

We fight in the same army.

The owner of this leg rode in his wheelchair right next to me. Standing no higher than my hip, he is my battle partner on this open field of colored tiles and IV poles. In a war in which we fight with the best armies the world can offer. Those who arm us with research, chemotherapy, prayer, hope, strength, and willpower to move forward.

In a war in which we fight alongside each other against that cancer within us.

Our battle cry is this, childhood cancer:

Take our legs – we can do it.
Take our hair – we can do it.
Take our sleep – we can do it.
Take our dreams – we can do it.

You can take our everything.

Except our hope.

We will not, ever, at any moment, give up our hope. We guard it within one another, and it simply cannot be reached. Its protection is¬†invincible¬†as we walk hand-in-hand or wheelchair in wheelchair carrying each other’s dreams and wants and favorite video games.

For you fight for my life and I fight for yours, battle partner. You make me smile though tears and I tell you it won’t hurt forever. And there is no force stronger than two deep hearts saying no to that cancer.

But to my battle partner, if there comes a time when we must let go of our hands held so tightly, we will still never be apart. For when in war it doesn’t matter where you are; you are never left behind – and always held in the heart.

…because love wins.