“He asked how it felt to get hit by lightning,” wrote Jonathan Tjarks, a sportswriter for The Ringer. Jonathan’s terminal diagnosis was so rare, that a doctor friend of his compared the chances of having this cancer to being struck by lightning. It was an Ewing’s-like sarcoma with a BCOR-CCNB3 rearrangement. Cancer is rare. Sarcomas (small tumors in the bones and connective tissue) are even rarer. But the specific sarcoma Jonathan has is one of the rarest. The chances of having it are 25 million to 1.
That’s one of the few cases when you might be justified in using the phrase “worst-case scenario”. With only so much time left, it’s a tragic thing to be stuck in a hospital for most of it while you undergo scan after scan, treatment after treatment. But Jonathan Tjarks doesn’t see it that way. Instead of focusing on the pain, the suffering, and the despair, Jonathan finds light in the other things in his life. Recently on The Cale Clarke Show, Cale spent a segment talking about seeking and finding solace in friends, family, and faith in dark times.
Jonathan said that he has to get chemo every three weeks and scans every nine weeks. That leaves him with a lot of time to think, and he spends most of that time thinking about his 2-year-old son, Jackson. Jonathan’s own father was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease when he was 6, unintelligible by the time he was 12, and he passed away when Jonathan was just 21. He laments never being given the chance to truly know his father, the medications keeping him so sedated for most of his life.
That was one thing Jonathan wanted to give his son that his own father wasn’t able to give him: a real and fulfilling presence. But that’s not a point of bitterness of Jonathan’s. Rather, he was more taken aback by how many people he didn’t know showed up to his father’s funeral. He said he knew of them, but he didn’t know them. By the time his father passed, the only people who bothered to come by were nurses and healthcare workers.
“I have already told some of my friends: When I see you in heaven, there’s only one thing I’m going to ask—Were you good to my son and my wife? Were you there for them? Does my son know you?” wrote Jonathan. “I don’t want Jackson to have the same childhood that I did. I want him to wonder why his dad’s friends always come over and shoot hoops with him. Why they always invite him to their houses. Why there are so many of them at his games. I hope that he gets sick of them.”
Jonathan said he’s learned a few things. One of them is that he believes in a God who has the ability to miraculously heal him if He so decided. However, it is also apparent that this has not happened yet. While that hurts, another thing he has learned is that “there was never a promise that it would be any other way.” And finally, Jonathan learned that you cannot worry about things that you cannot control. “Worrying about death does me nothing. All I can do is believe and have faith that there’s some point to all this. That God is watching after me and my family, even if it doesn’t seem like it sometimes.”
God doesn’t promise us a life of ease, comfort, satisfaction, or even mediocrity. He has promised us that life will be hard, difficult, full of trials and tribulations. But that shouldn’t be a point of despair or pessimism. Rather, we should view these hardships as opportunities, as Jonathan does. It’s not expected that we face tragedy with a grin on our faces, but it’s well within the power of God to help us treat it as a chance to grow, reflect, and make the most of the time that we have been allotted on this planet.
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come; thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen.
Listen to the full segment below:
Tune in to The Cale Clarke Show weekdays at 5pm CT