When 10-year-old Sophia Espiritu was diagnosed with a rare pediatric cancer, her family depended on God for hope and a chance to live cancer-free.
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“THE REASONS I AM BRAVE”
Sophia Espiritu: I was sitting there with my family, pinkies up, sipping tea and eating scones. The food came, course after course of mini sandwiches, endless varieties of tea, and quite delectable, absolutely mouthwatering desserts. But the ending specialty cake was out of this world, mate. It was a chocolate almond cake, with a little bit of chocolate mousse, and a striped fondant scarf. In addition, I got homemade pistachio macarons, topped with the cursive iced finishing of my name. We were having the time of our lives in Scotland, during our fancy afternoon tea, while inside Balmoral Hotel. There, famous author J.K. Rowling had finished writing one of her popular books, but I couldn’t help but think about how different our lives were just about a year before.
In March 2018, when I was nine years old, I was diagnosed with Langerhans Cell Histiocytosis, which is a brain tumor, a form of cancer— a cancer diagnosis that changed my whole life in a millisecond. I want to say it was scary, I want to say that it made me angry and left me depressed. What I can tell you though, is that chemotherapy is painful and super inconvenient. The needles, the poking, the metallic taste in my mouth, and the exhausting, tiring, and endless hours spent in the hospital. It was all completely draining.
I admit, I felt scared. I was absolutely stunned. But then I realized something, that no matter what would happen to me, I shouldn’t be scared, since my mom and dad always gave me a reason to be positive. My parents taught me the importance of prayer. So I asked God to make me strong. My parents made it clear that God was always with me, and I knew it every step of the way, as I felt God’s love deep inside my heart.
God’s love came in the form of kind nurses, a team of good doctors, the best parents, a really protective and supportive older brother, and good news, like when I was told my tumor had decreased in size by September of 2018, the same year of my diagnosis. That was God’s love—the love that made me stronger and helped me keep running forward.
My birthday is in December, and to get good news like that before my birthday was awesome! And I wanted to do something special, not anything particular for me, but for others. I wanted to help other children because, these past years, so many people have helped me: all of the nurses and physicians, all my family and my many friends, and most importantly—God.
So, I just wanted to be able to help and give back to everyone. So, after some brainstorming with my mom, we decided to start a Shirt and Share Fundraiser. I wanted to raise funds so that other pediatric patients could have a chemotherapy port shirt, just like mine. Because when I’m getting my treatments, I notice that there are many children who don’t have a special shirt like mine. This shirt gives the nurses easier access during chemotherapy treatment, which makes it a more comfortable experience for the patient. I know about the rough time these other patients are going through. And I really want to help make it an easier experience for them, especially since we’re all just kids—some even babies and toddlers. We don’t know how to cope with this stuff. I mean, some can’t even properly talk or read.
I created a video, the word spread,
Holbrook grl marks 10th
chemotherapy port shirt
and, with the help of the community, we raised enough for over 700 shirts. My original goal for myself was 30—that’s big. I’d do the math, but…hold on. Okay, so my fundraiser gave me a whopping 670 more shirts than I had ever planned or even dreamed to have.
I donated the chemotherapy port shirts on my birthday. And what many people don’t know is that the ‘share’ in the name ‘Shirt and Share’ actually means I’m also sharing my faith inside the true Church Of Christ, by packing Pasugo: God’s Message magazines and INC media cards, with the chemo shirts.
I guess people got the word about my kindness, because the amazing Make-A-Wish Foundation held a banquet for me. It was amazing. It was everything that I loved. And then, I was gifted with a trip to Scotland, where I had the best time of my young life, and ate some of the best foods in the world. The Make-A-Wish Foundation said they did all those things for me because I’m brave.
But I’m only brave because that’s what God’s words in the Bible, taught to us in the worship services, encourage us to be. I’m also brave because of my mom’s warm and supportive hugs, and the look of love I see in my dad’s eyes. But I feel really brave when I hear them asking for God’s help during our family prayers. I’m brave because I have my family and my faith. And I’m also brave because I have faith in God’s true words that I hear being taught to us by the Administration of the Church Of Christ. I feel strong when, as a children’s choir member, I sing hymns to praise and thank God.
Through this COVID-19 pandemic, though it has been very hard, it still goes to show that with God nothing is ever impossible. I’m still here, in this very moment, with God’s love still inside me which takes form in the health that He has bestowed. Sure, disasters and illnesses, like this, may happen in this world. But we should still trust the Almighty God, nevertheless. He cares for those who do not doubt Him—protecting and guiding His children.
Now, I am 11 years old. I am here today cancer-free, and with no active sign of the tumor. And I know for sure that it’s because of God; not because of my family, or any friendly doctors, and especially not because of myself, or any man alone, but because of the Almighty God, who granted me my miracle.