Sister Amy A. Wright was just called as the Second Counselor in the Primary General Presidency during April 2021 general conference, but that’s not the first time her name has been heard over the pulpit. In 2017, Sister Bonnie H. Cordon shared a story in the women’s session of general conference about how Sister Wright battled cancer by serving others.
► You may also like: The tender stories behind the new Primary General Presidency’s calling
Now, in a Latter-day Saint Women podcast, Wright shared more experiences from when she had cancer and what she learned both from serving and being served. When she was first diagnosed with stage 4 ovarian cancer in 2015, Sister Wright was told she would only have about four months to live. She recalled the day she learned about her diagnosis and the shock she and her husband felt.
They thanked the doctor for telling them the news in a kind and compassionate way, but as Sister Wright and her husband drove home after that appointment, a million other thoughts started coming into her mind. One was about her son who was serving a mission in Italy. He wouldn’t return home for eight more months, and with her diagnosis, she realized she likely wouldn’t see him again in this life.
“And so I closed my eyes and I just silently asked my Heavenly Father, ‘Am I going to die?’ And very sweetly, the thought came to my mind, ‘Everything is going to be okay.’ And I didn't quite know what that meant. And so then I asked, ‘Am I going to live?’ And again, the exact same answer came, ‘Everything is [going to] be okay,’” she recalls.
Confused at how she could receive the same answer for two very different questions, Sister Wright was then filled with peace and comfort that her children knew important gospel truths.
“Every ordinance and covenant made and participated in, every temple visit, every testimony shared, every prayer of faith offered—mattered. We needed every single drop of oil for our lamps. It was too late to put oil in our lamps. We needed every single drop and we needed it right now,” Sister Wright said. “And that was such an incredible comfort to me, because every single one of those things shared the same foundation, which is Jesus Christ. If I lived, I knew that the Savior would be there to help me heal and help succor and comfort me through some very difficult times. And if I died, I knew that the Savior would be there to help my family heal and succor them through difficult times, and that one day my family would be restored.”
► You may also like: How Elder Rasband’s insights about a familiar parable gave new meaning to the phrase ‘I am a child of God’
As Sister Wright underwent an aggressive treatment for her cancer, she felt like the process was too hard to bear and told her husband she was going to quit. He suggested that they find someone to serve—a tradition their family often did when someone was feeling down. So despite the fact that she was fighting for her life, Sister Wright knew this was what she needed. In the middle of the night when the pain was too great for sleep, she would think of ways to help others. Focusing on service also helped her as she went in to receive treatments because it turned into more than a visit to the hospital—it was an opportunity to serve somebody.
Sister Wright remembers one occasion when her family put together some care kits for patients in the hospital consisting of things like hand sanitizer, chapstick, gum, and Tic Tacs—just something to suck on since chemotherapy leaves a metallic taste in the mouth. Her sons came with her one day to the infusion room in the hospital to hand out the kits. After talking to the patients for a couple of hours, the boys had two kits left over. It was time for them to leave, but they wondered what to do with the kits they hadn’t given away. Sister Wright replied that the Spirit would direct her sons as they were leaving the hospital on who to share it with.
Her boys left, but Sister Wright stayed behind as she was still experiencing treatment that day. While sitting in the hospital, Sister Wright spotted a young girl whose mother was a fellow cancer patient. It had been some time since Sister Wright had seen the girl’s mother and she was concerned for her, so Sister Wright started talking to the daughter and inquired after her mother.
Sister Wright learned that the woman had decided to stop treatments because she didn’t feel like God knew that she existed or cared about her. But that very day when she was going to tell her doctor about her decision, two boys gave them a small gift of Tic Tacs. When the girl’s mother asked what the gift was for, one of the boys responded that “this is just to let you know that you are loved.” The daughter said that the gift became “a tender, beautiful reminder that God does know she exists and that He cares.”
As the daughter related this story to Sister Wright, she said her mother was in the other room continuing treatment.
“What a wonderful gift from our Savior, because so often we serve and we throw our little pebble into the service pond, but we [don’t] always get to see the ripples of the effect of that service,” she said. “That dear friend ended up finishing her treatment, and now there are grandchildren who [are] yet to be born that will know their grandmother because of a gift of Tic Tacs and gum. What a treasure[d] and a tender lesson . . . that there truly is no such thing as a small act of kindness, that everything we do matters. It matters to those that we serve, it matters to our Heavenly Father, it matters to the Lord.”
Listen to the full episode on the Latter-day Saint Women podcast.