Former head of HR for Instagram, Latter-day Saint shares ‘the miracle of orange chicken’

Can someone who doesn’t believe in God be an instrument in His hands? Can orange chicken serve as proof of God’s awareness of us? On this week’s episode of All In, Angie Balfour, former head of HR at Instagram and director of human resources at Facebook, shared that while awaiting the details of a cancer diagnosis, she experienced a miracle in an unexpected way.

Read Balfour’s experience below or listen to the full episode here. You can also read a full transcript here.

Angie Balfour: I got a call from my doctor on a Friday that was like, "Hey, we know it's going to be cancer, but we don't know what kind of cancer it is."

Morgan Jones: And then you have like the week from heck.

Angie Balfour: Yes! They had like, I think at that point, 26 pathologists looking. It was just kind of complicated; they couldn't quite figure it out. And it's because they didn't realize it was two separate cancers. . . .There had been a different kind of cancer–breast cancer–in my family, and so I knew that if I just called my family and said, "Hey, I have some type of cancer," like, you can't tell your parents that, or maybe you can, but I didn't want to without saying like, "This is what it is."

So there was a period of a few days where I didn't really tell anyone. I was just at home thinking about it. I told a few close friends [and] one of them was a girlfriend from work. Her name is Candy and she's the best and we're really different. Candy was raised Jewish, is atheist by choice, and we just have this fun friendship of how different we are but how similar we are.  I called her and I told her about and she said–she lived about an hour away–and she was like, "Hey, I'm going to come visit you today." And it was on a Sunday, and I was just feeling not good–as you can imagine, and I was really tired.

 I just like developed this overwhelming craving for orange chicken. And I will tell you this, I've never had [that craving] before or since. Orange chicken is not even in my top 100 foods. But I was just lying there thinking, if I had the energy to drive, I would go get myself orange chicken, but I can't. And that's okay.

And I was just lying there thinking–almost obsessing over–which is really weird, and this friend showed up. And as she walked in the door, she was carrying a package. And she was like, "This is going to sound really weird. I don't know if you should be bringing orange chicken to someone who just got diagnosed with cancer, but I was walking on the street before I drove down here and I passed this place, and I walked past, and I thought, 'I should just get Angie some orange chicken.'"

And I couldn't believe–I was really stunned. It was just very . . . this, what you originally would have called random, but I think it wasn't. But what I realized, I said, "Oh my gosh, I've had a craving for orange chicken, Candy. This is the miracle of orange chicken." And she goes, "It can't be a miracle. I don't believe in God." I was like, "Well, He believes in you, and He's utilizing you." And it sounds kind of funny, or like why would that be so significant to you? But it really was one of the defining moments for me. And the reason it was is I was like, if God knows me well enough to know that I was craving orange chicken, then He knows that He created this body, He loves this body. I'm a daughter of Heavenly Father and Heavenly Parents, and He is going to help me and He's in the details of my life.

And for whatever reason, from that moment forward, I felt so much peace. And I will tell you that beating cancer is hard. And anyone who's gone through it will tell you that, but there was an overwhelming added layer of peace from that point forward, from the spirit, of just like, "I've got you, we're going to do this together, this is going to work out."

[Candy] always jokes, she's like, "I cannot be part of your miracle. I am an atheist." I was like, "No. God believes in you. You're part of it."

Lead Image: Courtesy of Angie Balfour
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