More than three thousand football enthusiasts lined the streets of Blackhall Colliery in County Durham on 14th July to pay their last respect to Bradley Lowery. He was a six-year-old Sunderland fan who was diagnosed with neuroblastoma when he was just 18 months old. His fight against the rare childhood cancer began in January 2013 and his positive countenance in battling the disease has gone on to inspire millions, including celebrities. Touched by his story, the nation of England came together in a bid to initially cure the illness with more than £1 million being raised for his official charity including large donations from several top-flight clubs.
He struck a close camaraderie with England and former Sunderland striker Jermain Defoe who called Bradley his “best mate”.
I was devastated by the death of this young lad and even broke into tears when I watched videos and pictures of him. I was awed by his infectious smile and the admirable camaraderie he struck with Jermain Defoe. After sobbing for a while, I asked myself, why should this adorable lad suffer this disease? Can’t God see the pain this lad went through and the pain of his parents looking on helplessly at their son? Why didn’t this loving God just heal him? I was sad that he didn’t live long to accomplish his purpose in life. After saying this, my conscience then asked me “What if Bradley has accomplished his purpose in life?”
It then dawned on me that, even though Bradley had a short life, it was purposeful. I believe this disease has been in existence for a long time but how many of us had heard about it up until now? Under normal circumstances, Bradley could have allowed the disease to subjugate him but he did not. He didn’t allow his pain to take away his happiness and most importantly, he didn’t deny the world the charming and infectious smile God gave him.
He didn’t allow his pain to rob him of his love for football and Sunderland. He went further to openly show his love and admiration for Jermain Defoe and their bond will go down in football history as one of the adorable bromances of all time. His kind heart and infectious smile brought the footballing community in England together which is usually known for fierce rivalry among supporters of teams.
Bradley’s fight with this disease will give hope to other children suffering from this disease through the Bradley Lowery Foundation. His battle with this disease will change people’s countenance towards others who suffer this disease. He has brought out the compassion in others with his tender life.
For me, Bradley’s life epitomises Beyoncé’s song “I Was Here”. He has left his footprints on the sands of time. He can boldly say he lived each day until he died, knowing that he meant something in somebody’s life. The hearts he has touched are the proof he left, and he made a difference which this world will see. Bradley was here, he lived and loved.
On this note, I ask: What are you doing with your pain? It might not necessarily be cancer or a disease but what are you doing with it? Is it a failed relationship? Do you know you can save others from going through your ordeal by advising them against the mistakes you made in your failed relationship? Is it Sexual abuse? I know it is traumatic, but do you know you can equally save others by sharing your story with them? Is it depression? Do you know there is a motivational speaker lying in there which is you?
Bradley has shown the world that pain cannot rob you of your happiness. It is all about perception. He has shown that no condition has the power to stop one from making a positive impact on the world except death. He has used his smile and love for football to touch many lives.
You might be going through a painful experience but within that pain lies a powerful force that can touch the lives of others. Tap into it and contribute your quota towards making this world a better place.
WRITER: Desmond Pappy Tawiah
IMAGES: Getty Images