Tuesday, March 29, 2022

What Gives a Life Value?

Several weeks ago, I shared about a battle I’ve been facing. And I’m not alone. It seems that when people hear they will most likely die from cancer—and soon—they ask themselves one question: Has my life mattered?

Currently my cancer isn’t getting better. I need to undergo radiation again, and on Thursday, my oncology team will begin a new infusion for my bones that will work in tandem with my other treatments. Although this should help in the long run, I’m expected to feel even sicker than before.

So, as I’ve thought about all of this again, I’ve wondered, “Has my life mattered?” To make this somewhat tangible for myself, I decided to find five exact moments when “I” felt of value.

For yourself, can you think of five moments when you really felt of value? 

This has not been easy for me! In fact, I’ve thought about this for weeks, bouncing back and forth. Was it the act of giving birth to my children, owning successful businesses, hitting a million views on my blog, landing the lead in a play, or running a newspaper? While nice, stacked against “value,” each and every “accomplishment” seemed hollow, maybe even rooted in pride. 

“How’s your search for value going? Have you landed on your five memories yet?” a friend asked. 

“No. I just keep thinking of standing before God, trying to brag about my bachelor’s degree or being a physician liaison, and it sounds completely inane.”

“Elisa, don’t downplay your accomplishments.”

But she clearly didn’t understand. 

That night Mike and I made a fancy dinner with the kids. We laughed and joked. We played ping-pong on the kitchen table and tried the new “Starlight” Coca-Cola. It was the most fun I’ve had in months. Then, when the kids went to bed and Mike sat reading a book about Eastern philosophy, I sneaked downstairs. 

It’s rare for me to have enough energy to get extra things done, but I knew I could do something small that night—and it would have a huge impact. 

In my sewing room, there’s a stack of clothes that need patches, buttons, and other adjustments. So, like a little elf, I fixed everything. It didn’t take a terribly long time, and as I sewed, I felt so much love pouring through my tumor-ridden body.

“What are you doing, sweetheart?” Mike whispered. “Oh, my gosh! You fixed everything!”

He picked up a pair of his pants, and I suddenly felt like I had value. I could hardly wait for the kids to see what I’d fixed. 

“You look so tired… But you seem so happy,” Mike said.

I grinned. “It sounds so cliché, but it just hit me. It’s the small things. When I stand before God, if He asks me why I think my life mattered, I’ll say it did because I tried to make a difference for the people who meant the most to me.”

That night I snuggled into my fuzzy blanket, and even though the pain in my hip has grown to much higher levels and I’m still a little scared about the new bone infusions, nothing could dampen my happiness. The kids and Mike feel how much I love them, and so do the people who are closest to me. And that’s truly what matters. That is what has given my life value. And you know what, that’s enough for me.


  1. I love this!

  2. I wrote a long comments, but it got lost. So now, a short one: I'm so glad you came to see the value of your life by yourself. I think when love is present in the small moments, doing a needed chore, helping someone, being considerate brings value. Your conversations with others bring value to their lives, they then share your wisdom with others and value grows.

  3. This really gives me perspective for my own life.

  4. Your books are also a good legacy. I hope you can write at least one more about your cancer journey. Best of luck with new treatments.