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How I found the courage to keep my crown and pursue my career

To: Those who lost a parent (in honor of my mom, Susan Begay)

From: Haley Jordan (As told to Lauren Brill)

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To those who have lost a parent,

My mom always used to tell me, “Get ready, God is about to bless you.”

So, like many people, growing up, I never really thought about the negative in life.

Even early on in college, I thought to myself, “Nothing bad will happen to me.”

Instead, I was ready for my blessings.

Now, after enduring the greatest challenge of my life, I not only realize bad things do happen, but I also learned that I have the ability to deal with them.

And I have mom to thank for that.

When I was a little girl, I loved to write and I was a chatterbox. So, in first grade, when my teacher asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I told her I wanted to be a journalist. Lucky for me, my mother was an incredible writer. She worked as a journalist for the Indianapolis Star. Through the years, she would always scribble my reports with a red pen, helping me become a better writer.

When I was 11 years old, I didn’t have a lot of confidence. My mom entered me into pageants.

 At 19, I competed for Miss Indiana and won.   Both my mother and I were so excited.  But just two weeks after winning the crown, my whole life changed.

After seeing flashing lights in the corner of her eyes, my mom went to the Emergency Room, where she was diagnosed with Glioblastoma, a very aggressive form of brain cancer.

Immediately, I contemplated giving up my crown and passing on my title to the first runner-up. This way, I could stay home and care for my mom.

She told me, “Absolutely not.”

My mother made me promise to stick with it and not miss a single appearance. She made no exceptions. A week after her diagnosis, she had brain surgery. On that day, I was scheduled to sing the national anthem in front of 15,000 people.

She reminded me, “You won. You deserve this. And it’s not going to do you any good sitting outside of an operating room.”

Haley with her mom Susan Begay

My mother refused to let her cancer be the reason I didn’t pursue my dream. Throughout my tenure as Miss Indiana, I became more confident in myself and more prepared for my career as a sports journalist. After my term ended, against the odds, my mom went into remission.

Everything appeared right on track heading into 2020. My mother was seemingly healthy and I was getting ready to graduate. Unexpectedly, 2020 turned out to be an awful year – the worst of my life. First, in February, a friend of mine committed suicide. Then, the pandemic hit. In April, after three years in remission and many clear scans, my mom received the news that the cancer returned. It was in one spot. They removed the tumor. 

My mother healed wonderfully and I thought we were in the clear. So, I went back to school for my last semester and interned at WISH TV sports, a local station in Indianapolis. But then, in November, my mom went in for a routine checkup and this time the MRI showed that the cancer was all over her brain.

When I took her to one of her appointments, she asked the doctor, “How much time do I have?”

He said, “Do you really want to know my guess?”

She said, “I really do.”

He told her, “three months,”

When I first heard that prognosis, I thought,”Oh my gosh, my life is over. I’ll never find joy again.”

My mom had a different attitude.  She was so strong.  She wasn’t scared of anything. She was not afraid of surgery, radiation, chemo, or even death.

As my mother fought for her life, she told me to keep doing what I loved. She told me never to settle.

I even asked her, “Do you think I’ll be OK?

She said, “Oh yeah. You are going to have the best career. You’re good at what you do. You’re going to keep climbing, climbing and climbing.”

On December 12, 2020, my mother passed away five days before I graduated from college.

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After taking some time to grieve, I accepted a job in Rockford, Illinois as a sportscaster. To be honest, I wasn’t excited about moving – not because of the job or the city. The problem was I did not want to leave my family, boyfriend or friends. But at the same time, I knew my mom would want me to pursue my dream. I knew she’d want me to take the job.

Now that I am here and I am settled, I’m not only happy I accepted the position, but I feel my mother’s presence all of the time. As I follow in her footsteps as a journalist, I believe I am continuing her legacy.  

I am living my dream and I want you to know you can still live yours too.

Haley is working as a sportscaster for WIFR in Rockford Illinois

Take the time to heal. Focus on yourself first. Then, slowly but surely, introduce more tasks into your daily routine. Day by day, keep progressing.

When I realized I would lose my mom, I never thought I would be as mentally healthy as I am right now.

But before my mom died, I taped her telling me one more time, “Get ready, God is about to bless you.”

And sure enough, she was right. God did bless me, just like God blessed you.

Even though we lost a parent, I realized we are still forever blessed with their strength and their love.

So, keep pushing!

Haley Jordan
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