Facing Death from Brain Cancer, NCAA Basketball Player Lauren Hill, Teaches Us All Life Lessons

St. Joseph College freshman basketball player Lauren Hill. (Photo: The Enquirer/Carrie Cochran)
St. Joseph College freshman basketball player Lauren Hill.
(Photo: The Enquirer/Carrie Cochran)

A 19-year-old woman is dying. It could be days, it could be weeks, it could be a few months. No one really knows, mainly because no one knows much of anything about the form of cancer currently infesting her brain.

You have heard of this woman. You saw her story playing on the TV in the living room as you barreled through another day: Work, dinner. Kids’ homework without end, amen. “Terrible,” you thought.

You read about her on the dot-com, but only a sentence or two, until your cellphone rang or your neighbor appeared at the door, needing to borrow your leaf blower. “Awful,” you thought.

You knew a little about Lauren Hill. What is it, brain cancer? She plays basketball where? You know enough to make small talk at happy hour or on the first tee. “Can you imagine?” you said.

You are moved, momentarily. You shake your head and offer a quick prayer for Lauren or, more likely, for the blessing of your own kids’ good health. Then you can’t find your keys and soccer practice starts in 15 minutes and you have to stop at the cleaners and your car has no gas, and just like that the story of Lauren Hill retreats to the big warehouse in your head, joining the rest of the jumble. We are so well informed, yet so poorly versed.

You are who Lauren wants to speak with. It is to you she is dedicating the rest of her brief and precious life. Have a minute?

“One January night, I was having a meltdown,” she begins. “I asked God if I could do anything. I didn’t know what He sent me here for. I wanted to know what He sent me here for. Whatever you sent me here for, I’m ready to do.”

Does she have your attention now?

“What keeps me going is remembering why I’m here,” she says.

Lauren Hill is here for all of us. She’s a soul engine, and all she wants to do for the rest of her life is remind us how good we have it, and that we need to make that goodness matter, for everyone. That would include kids with the cancer she has, which is inoperable and incurable and swiftly fatal and receives very little attention.

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Source: USA Today | Paul Daugherty

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