This is not a recap, drama review, or anything related to Chinese media. This is just a post about an ordinary girl who is fighting an extraordinary battle. I have a friend who is fighting for her life. Here is the link to her blog. She has changed my life. If you visit her blog it will change yours too. In the last three years of my blog I have never written anything this personal, but I needed a space to put my thoughts and this was the only way I knew how.
When I first met Jennie Yang she was sitting with a boy I had a slight crush on in class. I didn’t realize she was different until she got up and walked with a cane. I never asked and she never told, we all just accepted it, it was a part of her. Eventually Jennie and I became study buddies in a small study group. She had dreams and hopes like the rest of us, of graduating and becoming a doctor and leading a life. After the class we saw each other occasionally, but college is like grand central station, people mill around day in and day out coming and going from their destinations. But we were never strangers. Jennie was a friend, not a close friend, but we would catch up if we saw each other. Like most kids in this day and age we were Facebook friends and her profile, like all the others was shelved in the depository.
When I received the email saying that Jennie’s cancer had come back, I was shocked. I followed her on caring bridge and slowly learned about her condition. Due to a genetic mutation, Jennie had a much higher chance than normal people to get cancers, highly aggressive cancers. People with her condition usually don’t live past 50. Jennie is only in her early 20s.
Sometimes the most enduring connections do not have to be formed in person. For me, it was when I started following Jennie’s updates on Caring Bridge. She was so strong and beautiful in her posts. Never was there a word of hate to poison her attitude. She was resilient and she believed that God had a plan for her. How strange was it that the slight girl I knew from philosophy class was actually a fearsome warrior.
In the last few years, she was suffering from bone cancer, skin cancer, lung cancer, breast cancer, brain cancer and she rode into battle each cancer like the fabled queens of old: fearlessly . Pain and cancer riddled her body time after time and every single time she fought and fought and fought. She surprised doctors with her recoveries and gave me hope. Every time her cancer came back I prayed for her, and every time she won, I felt as if the world was alright again. Each of her posts made their mark on my heart and I knew that I loved Jennie, like everyone who knew her. She not only won against cancer time after time, but she won the hearts of those who knew her and those who would come to know her through her battles.
In this world we idolize the rich and powerful, those who can influence the tides of war, entice the young, and ensnare the mighty. We idolize beauty, wealth, and power. And we get caught up in the most meaningless struggles with the most meaningless people. But how many of those we look up to deserve our attention? How many of those can inspire and change lives for good with just their actions? Jennie may not touch as many lives as some of those false idols, but you can bet all you have that Jennie Yang changed so many more lives for the better. Jennie might never be as famous as Miley Cyrus, but Jennie’s life will be infinitely more meaningful and infinitely more inspiring to others. In terms of the lives and people Jennie has touched compared to the trash that we idolize, I can only say, quality over quantity.
I can’t express all the emotions I feel right now for Jennie, who has been told that it might be her last battle with cancer recently. She has been so good and brave, a true warrior. She always apologizes for making people worry and thankful that so many people love her. In reality, i think everyone who knows her would gladly give a year or ten of their life to her.
In the past seven or eight years, Jennie Yang has changed my life. She has shaped the way I see the world, shaped the causes I believe in. She has made me a better person and her actions has shown me what faith can do. She didn’t just teach me that I needed to value every day, but she taught me what bravery means. Bravery doesn’t need a sword or a fist, bravery can simply be the will to keep going. I have never met anyone as brave as Jennie Yang. And I know that in my life I never will.
There may one day be a post on her blog that might break my heart into a thousand pieces. While I hope and pray for a miracle, what is the most important is that Jennie is at peace and not in pain. She is still fighting, because she is The Warrior. There once was a movie about 300 hundred Spartan men who defended Greece from the invading 100,000 Persians and their God King. While the 300 fought what they knew was a battle with the odds hugely stacked against them, they fought to show that the God King could bleed, and that the Persians were vulnerable. Jennie is the 300 in real life. She showed that cancer was vulnerable. She showed that cancer could bleed.
If you’ve read this to the end, I have an entreaty and a request. Go to Jennie’s blog and see what beauty, bravery, faith and goodness looks like.
Also, I wrote this post because I believe in the power of prayer.
So please, please, pray for Jennie.