Written by Guest Contributor Alessa Mousques
I wasn't aware of childhood cancer until my little sister first got it in 2011. She was already born with terminal heart disease and Down syndrome, making a cancer diagnosis more likely. Thankfully, she survived it and had a great, healthy few years of life.
When we received the news of my sister’s relapse in May of 2021, I was devastated. She seemed so healthy at the time the news came as a shock. My sweet little sister—who has only brought light into others' lives—relapsed. The moment I heard, I cried. I cried because I was scared. I cried because I felt hopeless. I cried because I didn't know what the future held for this little girl I loved so much.
The following day, I was overwhelmed with anxiety. I asked myself so many questions. Why were we going through this? Why did my sister, who deserved anything but hardship, relapse? I recalled how difficult it was for my sister and my family when she fought cancer when I was younger. Man, it was rough. Being back in it so suddenly was hard. I finally found myself on my knees, praying. My prayer consisted of my anger towards God, and my worry for my sister's heart lasting through her treatment.
In the weeks after the news of her relapse, I had to hold on to hope with all I had. I remembered when my sister had first been diagnosed with cancer, I was told to have faith. And here it was happening again. Day by day and little by little I told myself, “Have a little faith Alessa; it's going to be okay. No matter what, it's going to be okay.”
As I finally came to terms with all the possibilities, I looked into my little sister's eyes as I was putting her to bed one night and told her, “Sophi, if it hurts too much, if it's too hard, it's okay to let go, okay?” Saying this broke my heart, but believing there was a greater plan enabled me to tell her that. Having that little bit of faith helped me release her and finally put everything in God's hands. Where there was no control, I knew that if I gave it all to Him, He would help me.
I came to realize I’ve always had faith, so I was not about to stop then, or now, or ever. Through all the trials I have been through, I never doubted the existence of God. So again, why would I stop now? Having a sibling who has cancer is not easy, but we are never alone. I have found in the darkest of times, we are never abandoned. In the tears and anxiety and tremors, we are never on our own. My God is not a God of abandonment; He is a God of love, of presence, and of miracles.
My sister survived when she wasn't supposed to—that was God. She smiles through the pain—that is God. I look into her eyes and see courage and kindness— that is God. We don't know the bigger picture, or the greater plan, or completely comprehend the “why.” But we do know that we are never alone. As my sister battled cancer, I saw angels in the form of kind neighbors. I saw miracles in the form of medical discoveries. And through it all, I saw God loved me. He knew me, He knew I was suffering, and He knew I spent nights yelling at Him and feeling alone. Yet He loved me, and so I never quit trying or praying. Because of everything I have seen, I know for certain there is a God.
But it was hard. It was hard watching my sister scream in pain through the night. It was terrifying listening to the possibility of losing my sister. But I was not abandoned. So I continue to pray. I pray for everyone struggling through their cancer journey right now. For those in the midst of the fight, I pray for strength. For parents fighting and sacrificing for their children, I pray for their strength. For the siblings and friends that suffer the effects from it, I pray for comfort.
God comes to the broken; I know this because He came to me when I was broken. Even though cancer weakened my sister's heart, a heart that was weak to begin with, she has the strongest soul I have ever known. So don't give up. Because you are loved, and you're not alone, and miracles are so real.
I am grateful to have gone through this journey. Sounds crazy, right? You wouldn't think that going through hard things would make you grateful. But if I wasn't in the world of cancer, I wouldn't appreciate life, I wouldn't appreciate the little moments, and I wouldn't love my God as much as I do. In those moments of panic and intense anxiety and fear, I would never have thought I would have been grateful for my sister having cancer. I’m not happy she had to go through all she had to endure. But I have hope, and I believe no matter the outcome, everything is going to be okay. And because my sister has fought with such courage, I can, too.
Alessa Mousques is from Pleasant Grove, Utah and is the oldest of four siblings. She is currently studying at Utah Valley University but still trying to figure out her major. “I have a huge passion for fitness, and a lot of gratitude for life itself,” she shares. “I haven’t lived to be wise in all things yet, but I have learned so much, and I hope to help others by sharing some of my story.”