Lauren Stithem regularly uses the gym at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Tennessee.
Baby and me kicked booty in the gym today 💪🏼 morning sickness gone and it's time to get serious 👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼. 🤰🏻
Her daughter, Hayden, was diagnosed with cancer three-and-a-half years ago.
Stithem told Independent Journal Review that she often works out alone in the hospital gym to fill the time and lift her spirits.
Hayden had a little better day today. She is still on IV nutrition, fluids and lipids for extra nutrition support. She…
But this week, her workout routine was interrupted.
She explained on Facebook:
I was about to start my workout on the treadmill, and throw on my ear buds like usual. Strictly business when it comes to working out, and I had something I was looking forward to listening to. A man walks in a minute after me (I’ve literally never seen anyone else in the workout room in 5 months) and he gets on the treadmill beside me. Something inside of me says “don’t put your head phones on.”
Taking it as a sign of divine intervention, Stithem followed her gut and left the earbuds out. She started a conversation with the man next to her.
Working out 🏋 the only thing that keeps me sane (besides the grace of God). I told my mom last night that I might be…
She learned that the man’s 17-year-old son had been diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) in April. He was just starting his cancer journey and was still reeling from nearly losing his teenager.
Stithem was reminded of a friend who had been through a similar experience with AML. But the other child had lived through the experience.
She shared the story and was able to lift the man’s spirits. Stithem walked away feeling as if her struggle in the hospital helped her to touch the life of someone else. She wrote:
I learned that God doesn’t put us through things so we can sit around and feel sorry for ourselves. We go through battles to be an encouragement, we give people faith through our struggles, we can be a blessing. Be a blessing today, even if you don’t feel like it.
During an interview with IJR, she said she wanted to share her story on social media to help spread the message about the importance of reaching out to others:
“I just wanted to encourage others to be a blessing, no matter what they’re going through. If you try to be of service to others it helps you to get through your own circumstances.”
She may be sitting in the hospital alongside her little girl, but she refuses to let the doldrums of her present situation prevent her from reaching out and positively impacting the lives of others.