Have you ever been through an impossible week? The kind of week where it seems like time itself has slowed just so that every moment feels elongated, almost painfully so. This was that kind of week because, for the second time in as many days, a mom just let us know that her child finished her fight with stage III colon cancer on February 20, 2016. Taylor Helland was nothing short of a bright light for the two years that we knew her as a recipient. But there is a silver lining to weeks that take forever: we have so much more time to focus on the eternal impact Taylor made on everyone she came in contact with.
In her own words:
“Cancer has come with lots of pain and stress, but even more so it has come with so many blessings and has made such a positive stamp on my life and personality. Facing this terrible disease has only encouraged me to fight it and help others fight it.”
It is not often that the most positive person in the room is the person in the midst of a 5-year battle with cancer, but with Taylor it was undeniable that she was overflowing with enough life for everyone to be filled up. “Choose joy” was her battle cry and her most infectious quality as her countless friends and family can attest. Wherever Taylor went, there was life because she chose to treat every day as an opportunity to give back and ensure that those around her left with more hope about their future; be they fellow cancer patients who needed cheering up, or Ed Sheeran himself. See for yourself in the slideshow below.
As I look back at the first time Cancer for College met Taylor, it was through her application, and the personal statement she wrote, which depicted the accomplishments and selflessness of someone twice her age. Just marvel at her attitude, remembering that she was in the middle of treatment as she wrote this:
“I met several young people on my journey who were also battling cancer. Some are still fighting, some have gone to heaven. I cannot put into words how much I want to help others fight. I want to raise awareness, raise money, and help others beat this terrible disease. My youth pastor was just diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer and I am very hopeful that my story and experience might help him through his difficult journey…My ultimate goal in life is to make sure another 14 year old girl in the future does not have to go through what I have been through. That is why I am doing everything in my ability to promote cancer research and fight on!”
To be honest, Taylor lived more fully than most of us ever will by choosing to dedicate her life to helping others when it would be so understandable if she focused her energy on herself. From speaking to promote cancer awareness and research, leading multiple fundraisers that raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for research, and getting fired up when she had the opportunity to make her surgeon’s dream of starting a pediatric colon cancer trial come true there was nothing Taylor would not do make sure other people the opportunity for the future she dreamed of.
Now is the time for mourning because Taylor’s time with us was cut far too short. Now is also the time for celebrating because we are blessed to have been touched by a vibrant soul, and are so much better for it. In 20 years, Taylor weaved a story reminiscent of the most loving and caring saints in history. And she graciously invited us along for the journey.
If you are one of the many people who was impacted positively by Taylor Helland, please feel free to share a memory with us. You will always be a part of our family, Taylor, and we are so thankful for the gift of getting to know you these past few years.