Tristen Larson Merriman
Updated: Sep 20, 2018
What you are about to read can change your life. If you’re experiencing a loss of anything, and don’t feel you can overcome, stay with me. I’d like to share one of the most powerful interviews I’ve recorded in over twenty-five years. The guest is Tristen Larson Merriman. In spite of the cancer that would eventually take her life, Tristen focused on the 3 P’s: Purpose, Positive Mental Attitude and Perseverance. She also possessed an unbending faith and a love for God. Read and learn from a woman who thought of cancer as a blessing in her life.
(Jerry) Thanks for joining us today. Tell us about your background.
(Tristen) I’m 25 years old and grew up in a small South Dakota town. After high school, I went to the University of Sioux Falls. I graduated there in the year 2000.
(Jerry) What’s your life like right now?
(Tristen) Well, it’s a lot of resting.
(Jerry) You were diagnosed with having cancer over 3 years ago. Take us back to that moment. What were you told?
(Tristen) It was the Monday of finals week when I graduated from college. I had a biopsy because I thought I had mono. When I woke up from surgery, the doctor told me, ‘you have cancer.’”
(Jerry) How did you take the news at the time?
(Tristen) Pretty well thanks to my family. The radiation during the first bout with cancer was actually pretty easy for me. My family stayed with me every step of the way.
(Jerry) What’s been the toughest part of living with cancer during the past several
(Tristen) Probably the fact that it never goes away. It keeps coming back. This is the fourth time I’ve been diagnosed with cancer.
(Jerry) How has the cancer changed your life?
(Tristen) My life has definitely slowed down quite a bit. I can’t do everything I used to be able to do. Although I rest more, my personality and friendships have changed for the better. Life is just a lot more meaningful. I just don’t take it for granted. Since the chance of dying from cancer is higher and higher, every day is really precious to me.
(Jerry) Has it made you a stronger person?
(Tristen) Definitely. You have to be. If you let it get you down, you’ll just go crazy and everyday will be a struggle. You just can’t dwell on it. If I focus on the positives in my life, like my family, I feel much happier.
(Jerry) But, what keeps you from thinking about cancer all the time?
(Tristen) I have Christ in my life and in my heart. That gives me hope and joy beyond anything this world can give me.
(Jerry) Since faith plays such a major part in your life, how would you define it?
(Tristen) Faith is the hope in something you can’t see. Faith is really trust in God and knowing He’s walking with me on this journey. He’s not going to give me anything I can’t handle---even though at times I think I won’t be able to deal with it. He knows so much better than I do. Every step of the journey is a refining moment and I come out stronger than I was before. I would do it all over again to learn what I’ve learned since day one of the diagnosis.
(Jerry) When you’re all alone and you’re thinking about the disease, do you ever get to the point of saying---I’ve had enough. I just can’t take anymore. I have too much on my plate.
(Tristen) Not yet! I’m hoping that day never comes. My friends are amazing and I know if I become discouraged and need to scream or cry, I can call any one of them. They will support me and even cry with me.
(Jerry) I’d like to get your reaction to this quote: “The happiness of your life depends on the quality of your thoughts.”
(Tristen) Yes, I totally agree. Attitude really is everything. If you tell yourself every day you’re dying, there’s no hope and poor me, this is my fourth time with cancer, why can’t somebody else get it this time—you’re going to be miserable and make the people around you feel really bad. But, if you get up every morning with a positive attitude, life is great!
(Jerry) How is your family responding to the cancer?
(Tristen) It’s been very hard. We have a history of cancer in my family. Even though I’m adopted, my mother and a cousin are going through cancer, my aunt and great uncle just got through with it. It’s just a word my family is tired of hearing.
(Jerry) One of your friends told me your response to pain is laughter. How do you find humor when you have this disease in your body?
(Tristen) Because there’s humor in just about everything. Instead of becoming morbid about the disease, my friends and I look for the humor in it. You just have to change your perspective and not let the cancer control you. In spite of everything, life is wonderful and precious. Keeping a smile on my face through the dark days has really helped me.
(Jerry) How do it do that in light of the cancer?
(Tristen) Sure, it’s hard to do. But, with Christ, it’s easier to do. Granted, there are some days that are really tough. But, when you think about Heaven and the things to come, you can turn adversity into victory. If I’m going to die from this disease, I’m going to enjoy every day that I have. It’s no use being crabby everyday. None of us know how much time we have left. So, why not enjoy the here and now?
(Jerry) Tristen, what would you say to people who are battling serious illnesses right now? What advice would you give?
(Tristin) They need Christ and prayer. The combination produces joy and hope. Hopefully, friends and family will raise their spirits. If they’re all alone, I suggest calling a local church and talking to a minister. The hope is there if they reach out for it.
(Jerry) What you’re telling us is there is hope in what might be considered hopeless?
(Tristen) Even if a situation ends in death, there’s still hope. I know that I’m going to spend an eternity with Christ. There’s nothing sad about it. It’s amazing!
Tristen Larson Merriman is now released from the cancer and is---with an abundance of joy---spending an eternity in Heaven. While here on earth, Tristen discovered hope in her faith and from her favorite book---the Bible. During the tough times and there were many, Tristen found inspiration from her favorite scriptures, 2nd Corinthians Chapter 4 Verses 16-18. Perhaps, you will too! “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”