A few years ago, I had discovered the Giving Keys and completely fell in love not only with the vintage/rustic design of the keys, but the message and goal behind them. I purchased my first key that read "INSPIRE" on the front and even though I loved wearing the key around my own neck, I genuinely could not wait until I had the opportunity to pass it along and type out some kind of amazing inspirational story of a stranger I had not yet met. Well, God had quite the sense of humor and quite the change of plans.
The man in this photo is my best friend and basically my non-blood brother, Adam. About 2 years ago, 19-year-old Adam, then a freshman in college and living a few hours away from home in Tallahassee, noticed his eye was swollen. His mom recommended he go to a doctor around there, thinking it was maybe just allergies or pink eye. He went to a doctor and was caught completely off guard when he was diagnosed with a very rare type of stage 3 pediatric cancer titled alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma behind the muscle in his eye. They gave him a 30% chance rate of survival and very short time line. Over the course of the next year and a half, he suffered through chemo therapy, radiation, losing his life as he knew it, his hair, as well as over 75 lbs. I remember so clearly going to visit him in the hospital, always having a smile on his face even when he had to spend his 21st birthday laying in a hospital bed playing monopoly with our other best friend Matt and I. He always found a way to put a smile on the other children faces. He always found a way to find the positives even in the most negative of situations. He always found a way to be an inspiration.
He beat the odds. They declared him in remission in March of 2014. Everyone was ecstatic and beyond relieved. His fighting payed off. Everyone's prayers and support was worth it. His mom began planning a surprise 21st birthday/end of cancer celebration. A huge party was thrown with hundreds of people all surrounding him with love and support and happiness. The smiles were endless as well as the dancing. My sister and I are in a pop/country sister band titled "The Lockets" and our friend Dreww is a rapper, so we created a mash-up in which we played two of his favorite songs, "45 Seconds" and "Lean On Me" while Dreww wrote an original rap to go along. Adam's happiness was like a disease, but a great one this time. By the end of the night, it felt as if nothing could bring any of us down. Months pass, full of new memories created such as taking me (recently turned 18-year-old) to the gun range for the first time, helping Adam grow his relationship with the Lord and attending church, late nights playing pool, movie nights, concerts, my high school graduation, days at the beach and many more amazing times as best friends all preparing to leave for college this coming Fall. I have committed to Belmont University as a 2015 freshman, my sister is a sophomore at the same university, Matt is training to be a fire fighter, Adrienne is attending USF, and Adam had planned to attend Valencia community college in Orlando with another one of his good friends.
A few weeks ago, Adam was at dinner with Adrienne and felt his thumb going numb. He then felt the left side of his face begin to droop and his speech began to slur. He was having a mini stroke. Of course, the worst thought possible immediately crossed him mind. His mother rushed him to the hospital where they did many tests including an MRI. A part of his brain lit up, and it was like re-living the nightmare all over again.
He spent a few weeks in New York City, doing tests and trials and receiving worse and worse information. They have now come to the conclusion that it is a relapse in the brain and have given him the prognosis of about 4-6 months with radiation. It is terminal.
He returned him for about a week to see his family and his friends, and after hearing this news, he has began to lose hope and lose faith. We did what we could to make this last week at home the best week full of memories and fun times. Yesterday he left for New York yet again, this time for about a month and a half. We knew we would all be gone for school when he returns, so we decided to give him something to take with him.
We gave him my Giving Key to remind him to never lose him inspirational personality. However, we also customized it just for Adam. We collected a bullet casing from his gun from the day we went shooting for the first time and strung it onto the chain to remind him to get his butt back home so we can make some more memories at the gun range. We then added a small cross, to remind him that God is always on his side even when it may not seem that way. I hope and pray he will fight this, although his outcome does not look promising. I'm glad I was able to pass along my Giving Key to someone who needed it more than I did, my brother and my best friend. Thank you!