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Expectant mother diagnosed with stage 4 cancer invites friends to join her in Book of Mormon reading challenge

by | Apr. 20, 2021

Jordan Ricks Hanks was my college roommate my senior year at BYU. She is also one of the most upbeat, positive people on the planet. I remember once when my mom came to visit, Jordan walked in the door, picked me up in the air, and started telling my mom how much she loved me. I was a little caught off-guard because we didn’t know each other very well but that is who Jordan is. She gives love and enthusiasm to everyone she meets.

We haven’t really kept in touch in the years since, but around Christmastime I saw a Facebook post that announced she was expecting her first child. At the end of March, Jordan posted a quote from Elder Jeffrey R. Holland that brought her comfort after learning that she would need a feeding tube for the remainder of her pregnancy:

God expects you to have enough faith, determination, and trust in Him to keep moving, keep living, keep rejoicing. He expects you not simply to face the future; He expects you to embrace and shape the future—to love it, rejoice in it, and delight in your opportunities. God is eagerly waiting for the chance to answer your prayers and fulfill your dreams, just as He always has. But He can’t if you don’t pray, and He can’t if you don’t dream. In short, He can’t if you don’t believe.

At that point the feeding tube didn't seem to be connected to anything incredibly serious so I was shocked when I saw a post on April 9th by Jordan’s uncle saying that Jordan had been diagnosed with stage 4 stomach cancer. Jordan is 29 years old and is now 30 weeks pregnant. 

I wasn’t prepared at the time for how inspired I would be in the coming days by Jordan’s trademark optimism she has shown throughout this trial. I also realized that optimism comes from being surrounded by incredible people whose faith is manifest in every social media post. 

But the thing I have been most impressed by has been how Jordan has shared her thoughts from her recent reading of the Book of Mormon and how she has invited her friends to join her as she undergoes chemotherapy treatments, which will continue for six months.

“I am so excited to re-read it from the beginning and finish by the end of my chemo! I would love it if anyone who would be willing would join me in reading it and sharing their favorite passages with me!” Jordan wrote on Facebook. 

Since then, she has shared her thoughts from her Book of Mormon reading each day. 

On April 13, she wrote, “When I got home, I was finally able to read my scriptures and read this verse from 1 Nephi 4:3, ‘Now behold you know that this is true; and ye also know that an angel hath spoken unto you; wherefore can ye doubt? Let us go up; the Lord is able to deliver us, even as our fathers.’ I especially loved this scripture because I have been shown miracle after miracle through this experience, wherefore how can I doubt? I can’t.” Jordan then added that her own father’s life was spared from significant health challenges years ago. “My father is a miracle and was delivered by the Lord from his scary circumstances, so why not me?” 

On April 17, Jordan shared the following along with a picture of 1 Nephi 9:5–6, “As I read the scriptures today, I read the verses . . . where Nephi explains that the purpose of his mission he knows not and yet what he does know is that the Lord knows all things and he has the power to fulfill all his words because he has prepared a way. We are on the very beginning of that path that the Lord has prepared and it will be up and down, but He will be with us the whole way. Remember to share your scriptures with me to make our traveling down this path more faith driven and provide us more light as we make each step forward.” 

Her friends have responded with their own thoughts about the Book of Mormon in the comments on Jordan’s posts. One wrote:

“Wherefore, all mankind were in a lost and in a fallen state, and ever would be save they should rely on this Redeemer” (1 Nephi 10:6). All of us are in some sort of lost and fallen state, whether we’re fighting cancer, struggling with kids, drowning financially, feeling heartbreak from disappointing relationships, navigating disturbing doubts, whatever it may be. 

My favorite phrase in this verse is ‘rely on this Redeemer.’ All any of us want, deep down, is to be brought back into the marvelous peace, love, light, and healing of God’s presence from which we came and which our spiritual hearts remember and long for. That’s what a redeemer does, He brings us back.”

Another friend wrote, “Thank you for inviting us to join you in reading the Book of Mormon with you. This morning as a reread the same passages I have read probably 100 times in my life, I am amazed at the gems that come leaping out at me that never did before. I love that depending on where we are in our lives, the Lord can speak to us and teach us from words we ‘thought we knew’ but don’t! I am feeling so much love from Heavenly Father as he shows me where I am doing great and where I can be better.”

As I’ve read Jordan’s posts, I have been in awe of her unwavering faith and optimism. I have discovered a hero in someone I met years ago. I have found myself thinking about her nature—always upbeat, positive, a true lover of life, and I have wondered if it is that very nature that will get her through an unbelievably difficult trial. 

I know there are so many in need of prayers right now, but if you have time and you think about it, maybe you could offer a prayer for my friend Jordan too?  

Lead Image: Courtesy of Jordan Ricks Hanks
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Morgan Jones

Morgan Jones comes to LDS Living after writing for the Deseret News since 2014. She published more than 480 stories and served as Senior Web Producer prior to her departure from Deseret News. Jones is a passionate storyteller and loves having the opportunity to share stories that deserve to be told. She is the host of the All In podcast. 

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