Dear Reader,

I wish I could pour you a steaming-hot cup of popple-cream and offer you a chair at my kitchen table. It would be so fun to learn more about you as we sipped our drinks together. I’d want to ask you things like, “What makes you laugh?” and “What’s your biggest pet peeve?” and “Would you rather explore the outermost reaches of space or the deepest depths of the ocean?”

While I don’t get to chat with you over those yummy cups of popple-cream, I’m guessing you may have read my book because you or someone you love has cancer. Or maybe you’re going through something that isn’t related to cancer at all, but it’s every bit as hard and scary.

I’ve had some hard things happen in my life too—like being diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer and watching my son suffer a lot of pain and illness when he was little. Those hard things are what inspired me to write this book. I wanted to give my son, and other kids who are hurting, a story to help them feel seen and understood in their suffering.

When it comes to suffering, I’ve learned that the why isn’t as important as the who. I don’t fully understand why I have cancer that can’t be cured, but I do know who I can trust my whole life to—the God who loves me so much, he healed me from the most awful diagnosis ever. I was born with a disease called sin, which is any thought or action or attitude that rejects God’s beautiful design for my life. Sin is the pride in all of us that says, “I don’t care what God says. I’m gonna do what I want!”

Here’s the thing: because God is perfectly good, he can’t put up with even a smidge of bad. Imagine I serve you a mug of popple-cream and tell you, “Oh, by the way, there’s just a tiny drop of dog poop in it.” Would you say, “Oh, I don’t mind! It’s just a drop!” Or would you say, “Disgusting! I’m not gonna drink one sip of that!” In the same way, even our smallest sin is a really big deal—it pollutes every bit of us and separates us from God. And the punishment for that sin is death.

Six years ago, my doctor called me into her office to tell me horrible news—news no one ever wants to hear: “You have cancer,” she said.

Was she a bad doctor for telling me the truth? I mean, she could have saved me a lot of sadness and worry if she’d just lied to me: “Your test results came back clear and you’re perfectly healthy!” But then, I wouldn’t have gotten treated and I’d already be dead by now. Instead, because my doctor told me the truth about my condition, I had a chance to seek good treatment and live some more days here!

It’s hard for us to hear that we have a fatal disease called sin, isn’t it? We want to feel good about ourselves and have people tell us, “You can do whatever feels right to you!” But God loves us too much to lie to us. He tells us the truth about our condition—but then he tells us the best news in the whole world: he already has the cure for us! He’s already made a way for us to be freed from our sin forever!

And how did he cure and free us? He sent his son Jesus to earth, to carry all our sins on his body, to die in our place, then come back to life and free us from the slavery of sin once and for all! All we have to do is say, “Thank you for saving me, Jesus! My life belongs to you now.” Years ago I put my trust in Jesus, so I’m not guilty anymore! I don’t have to face eternal death as a punishment. When I die of this cancer, death will simply be the doorway home to Jesus. I’ll step out of this shadow world for good and begin my greatest adventures in the Everworld with him.

Because God has healed me, forgiven and freed me, my life is full of hope and love and purpose even in my worst suffering. That’s why I wrote my book. I want everyone to experience the perfect, life-changing love of Jesus!

Dear one, you are more special than you can possibly imagine, and your life has so much purpose. In August’s words—in the end, everything turns out “better than you can imagine.”

Colleen Chao