After a twelve-year battle with cancer, Stephanie Spielman lost to the disease which she had physically confronted and spiritually attacked. Now, nearly two years later, her husband, Chris, narrates their relationship and tells us the story of his rise through the Ohio State University football team to the NFL, both as platforms for his dedication to battling cancer in all its forms. It’s the story of passion, and of purpose, which will move you and inspire you, from the opening foreward by the Spielmans’ eighteen-year-old daughter through the dedication to the battle that closes the book. Rise up, and fight!
This is a football book about Chris Spielman… and it’s not. It’s about Stephanie, about what breast cancer did to her body, but what it couldn’t do to her life. It’s about her spirit and about her husband’s promise to keep fighting the cancer fight on her behalf even after she died. And with the help of Bruce Hooley, Spielman, an ESPN commentator and analyst, spins a story that makes for inspiration and sermon (with a healthy-but-not-pushy blend of Scripture and prayer). So it’s also a testimony to faith and the power of hope in the midst of suffering and tragedy.
I’m sure in some regards this book is part therapy for the family, but it’s a tough read for someone who didn’t know her or the family. Sure, there are stories of the collegiate experience at OSU, and in the NFL, with a blend of self-deprecating humor and memory, but this is ultimately like a good movie where we’re not hit with more tragedy than we can handle. And the Spielmans certainly don’t talk about Stephanie’s death as more than they could handle; in fact, the Spielmans talk about the cancer as a mission from God.
I’ve read other books, and been told other stories, but Spielman’s book is so clearly focused on “that’s why I’m here” that there’s no doubting a higher purpose, a power granted by God to see the tragedy and address it as a challenge. It’s rather amazing actually, and completely compelling as a story. And the stories told in the last third reciprocate that hope, as the messages and stories flowing BACK to Spielman now show that Stephanie and their family have touched so many lives and are making a difference. In the face of adversity, hope rises, grows, multiplies, and strengthens. It means that Stephanie’s death created something new, a seed in the ground growing into something beautiful.