Sarah Reinhard is a Catholic wife, mom, writer, editor, marketing professional, and coffee drinker. You’re just as likely to find her hiding out back with a book as you are to discover her playing in the yard with a few farm animals (or wait — are those her kids?) She is the author of many books, the most recent of which she co-edited with Lisa Hendey: The Catholic Mom’s Prayer Companion: A Book of Daily Reflections. She blogs at SnoringScholar.com and writes online regularly at CatholicMom.com and Integrated Catholic Life. Reinhard holds a master’s degree in marketing and communications and has worked for many years in corporate and nonprofit organizations. She lives in central Ohio with her husband and children.
Tomorrow, hundreds of thousands will converge in Washington, D.C. for the March for Life. If this year is anything like past years, it will be an event that’s largely ignored by mainstream media, except for the five people who are in favor of abortion.
It’s the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion and really changed a lot of things in this country. In fact, there will be hundreds of thousands marching and walking across the country in support of life. You can also pray along with the 9 Days for Life if you’re not in a position to
But sometimes, having a face, a story, a NAME, makes it all real in a different way. It makes the theory into something tangible.
So when I saw Elizabeth Scalia encouraging her readers to pray for a mom who was fighting cancer, I shared it and joined in. Why not? I thought. This is part and parcel of being the Body of Christ.
And then I clicked through and read the whole story… Ashley Bridges was just having some knee issues, pain that wouldn’t go away. After over a year, she was finally referred to a specialist, but ended up in the hospital because the pain was so intense.
They had just wheeled Bridges back to the waiting room to wait for the results when they rushed her back into a room and said the doctor needed to speak with her. The doctor came in and said, "You have bone cancer."
A cancer known as osteosarcoma. She was just 24 years old and in shock from the news. Bridges couldn't believe what she was hearing,
"I was like, no. 'Cause who thinks of when their knee hurts that they have bone cancer?"
Bridges still gets emotional when she talks about how long it took to get her eventual diagnosis.
"I'm angry," Bridges said, tears welling in her eyes, "but there's really nothing we can do about it now. The doctor that I went to repeatedly and repeatedly telling him something wasn't right probably cost me my life. This is a very aggressive cancer. I could have had more time."
Bridges underwent surgery to replace her knee and remove the majority of her femur. The doctors also said she should start chemotherapy immediately, but there was a very big risk.
Bridges was already 10 weeks pregnant with a baby girl.
She refused chemotherapy, and her daughter, Paisley, was born absolutely fine. Bridges, however, is NOT fine. The cancer has spread throughout her entire body.
She’s been given a year to live, but you don’t get the sense of hopelessness when you read the story. In fact, I can’t help but feel inspired by life.
“Maybe I’m not supposed to be here and she is,” Bridges said, referring to Paisley.
I can’t help but agree with Scalia:
I can’t help but feel like heroic motherhood should be met with a heroic prayer-effort on her behalf. We should storm heaven, and ask for the prayers of Saint Gianna Molla, of course.
Well, if they’re open to a miracle, then why not help that along? Why not storm heaven for the sake of Ashley and her family? Why not ask the intercessory prayers of two mothers in heaven who know all about the decision she made — the real cost of her ransoming Paisley, and the rewards, as well?
When I read about Bridges’ approach to her life now, I couldn’t help but see a lesson for myself:
"I am really pushing for Paisley's first birthday. This is what I do. I do October, OK, I just got to make it to Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving comes around -- OK, let's just go to Christmas. Then Christmas comes and Braiden's birthday is in March, so I'm going to make it to Braiden's birthday. I'm just going to keep setting little goals for myself and we'll see."
The present moment. That’s what life is: a series of present moments. God doesn’t call us to live tomorrow or yesterday, he calls us to live NOW.
I’m in. Will you join your prayers too?
And if you want to do something financially to support the family, there’s a fundraising page.