The first time I caught a glimpse of her, she was smashing pies in teachers’ faces at the Worthington High School homecoming pep rally. Literally.
She sneaked up behind the blindfolded victims, carefully choosing each one while being cheered on by her peers. After getting covered with pie, one teacher stood up and gave her a hug, thereby smearing pie all over her as well. The whole gym erupted with laughter. Grinning from cheek to cheek, she was finally satisfied with her pie-smashing skills.
While shooting video after the pep rally, I realized the festivities revolved around that girl with the fierce arm. She is Stephanie Romero, a high school senior fighting her second round of cancer. During her first battle, she lost a finger but was told she was cancer-free. Recently, she learned it is now in her lungs and only one treatment option remains.
Can you imagine?
This 16-year-old beauty must fight an evil disease in the prime of her life.
When I was 16, my biggest worry was deciding my weekend plans and how I was going to style my hair the next day.
As I sit here comparing my high school life to hers, I can’t help but feel ashamed. Who am I to have an abundance of carefree days, while this young woman must fight for life each day?
As a senior, I prepared for my new life as a college student and was ecstatic to explore the world outside of my hometown. During her senior year, she must plan for more treatments.
The only thing that made me tired was studying. She gets tired walking up stairs.
Ever since I learned of her story, I’ve been wrestling with God trying to understand just why things like this happen.
Why do some people have so much, yet complain about menial things? Meanwhile, this teenager keeps a smile on her face while fighting for her life.
If you could have heard my coworker interviewing her for a story on the Zumbathon fundraiser, you never would have guessed the event was for her. The conversation was so animated, even on the phone I could tell what a positive and upbeat person Stephanie is. They were laughing and talking enthusiastically about life in general and about the Latin dance craze that is Zumba.
I’ll never have the answers to the questions that stir in my head. But perhaps the answers don’t matter. What matters is knowing that God gives us beauty for our ashes, and He will never leave our side.
It is said that good can be found in every situation, and Stephanie’s story is no different. The good comes in the warmth of her eyes and the thankfulness in her heart. Her strength and grace as she must face monstrous obstacles is amazing in itself.
The only certainty in life is uncertainty. Whatever battles we each must face, I pray that we can have even half of the courage that Stephanie has.
Sometimes we forget that each moment in life is a gift- leave it to a teen to remind us.
If today brings you even one extra minute, please use that time to pray for Stephanie and her family.
And keep this in mind:
“Although the world is full of suffering, it’s also full of the overcoming of it.” This is evident in Stephanie’s smile.