Cancer, for the most part, is a life-altering disease. Little by little, it eats every ounce of life out of a loved one. It also chips away at the hope your friends and family cling to as they watch you suffer and deteriorate.
I saw a photo of a polar bear on a small chunk of ice floating in an ocean. The bear looked so forlorn as he stood on the last piece of hope he had left.
If cancer is the ocean, and the ice is hope, a person battling this crippling disease clings to that little piece they have left along with their family.
There is beauty in the cancer battle.
My son’s wife Jazmin is twenty years old and has stage four lung and kidney cancer. We have only known her for a year and a half. Eythan and Jazmin had a whirlwind romance that led to two months of dating, six months of being engaged and now seven months of marriage.
Recently Jazmin got the news that her tumours in her lungs and kidney have grown significantly. That news was like a kick to the gut, a sucker punch that came out of nowhere.
Cancer knocks on your door one day and says, “I’m just giving you a heads up that I’m taking over your life and kicking you out.” Jazmin slammed the door when cancer came calling, and she turned and desperately clung to God.
But cancer has been trying to shrink her haven and hope.
Her dear friend Gayle is dying. She is in her last few hours of life as I write this post. Gayle also has cancer and is the same age as Jazmin. She is going to enter heaven any moment now.
We all wait. Pray. Plead for one last miracle.
The earth will lose a precious soul, and heaven will gain a beautiful, sweet young lady who was loved beyond measure by family and friends.
I am a mother, and I don’t feel any less a mother to Jazmin that I am to my two daughters Charity and Aryanna. When Jazmin came into our family, we took her in as ours. No marriage, no adoption, no in-law stuff.
We wanted Jazmin and everything that came with her, this included cancer.
I hate cancer. But I love what it gave us. Jazmin’s life would have been different without this disease, and she and my son Eythan may have never met and married. In a weird way, because she had cancer, we were given a gift…a beautiful, lovely daughter.
When Jazmin heard the sad news of her tumours growing, the girls and I decided we would make the trip to Sudbury three and half hours away and have a girls trip to spend time with Jazmin and also see Eythan.
Shopping and good food can cure almost anything.
We met at Milestones restaurant for lunch along with Jazmin, Eythan and Sherie, Jazmin mom. We had a lovely couple of hours chatting and catching up. I could overhear Sherie talking to Jazmin about some research she had been reading about cancer, and different things people have used to help slow its progress.
Sherie and her husband Aaron have been Jazmin’s greatest warriors against this disease since she was a young teenage girl. Their fight has been admirable as they have gone to battle repeatedly against this monster. Jazmin’s parents won’t quit, I know they won’t. They have too much love propelling them onward.
The girls and I went shopping with Jazmin. We have something in common. Jazmin was telling me that home decor stores bring her joy. I am the same way. When I walk into Pottery Barn, I walk into heaven. We sauntered amongst the rows of dishes, pillows, rugs, and pictures. Jazmin was having a good day; almost all her pain had disappeared.
We went out for a late supper at 8 pm. Other than looking sleepy Jazmin was feeling fine. We agreed to meet the next morning and pick her up on the way to a cafe, Salute Coffee Company.
But by 9 am we got the text, “I am in too much pain to go anywhere.”
We had to stop by the apartment to drop something off. Eythan told us Jazmin was in too much pain to even visit. I could see her legs in their bed, and knew she was propped up; I knew she probably had her burning hot bean bag against her back. Her pain was so severe it had caused her to throw up.
I just wanted to walk into her room and gather her up and comfort her. Jazmin is quiet when she is hurting. She makes no fuss.
The night before, we sat on the couches talking about Gayle and what heaven would be like for her as she walked through its gates, to Jesus. We kept checking Gayle’s prayer page on Facebook to see if her parents had posted. Sadness fell over Jazmin. A friend she loves is dying of the same disease Jazmin suffers from every day.
Gayle and Jazmin have lived together quite a bit since Jazmin got married. Gayle had been through chemo and radiation then her cancer to come back worse than ever. Gayle and her parents decided to try a clinic in Arizona that fought cancer naturally. Gayle had a relatively good quality of life for the past year; then cancer struck again in her spine. Her neck was broke from a tumour pressing on her vertebrae, and she needed surgery due to severe pain also.
Jazmin was getting treatment at the same clinic and lived with Gayle’s family when in Arizona. The girls became friends. Who else understands all the emotions and feeling of being young and battling for your life, while trying to cling to what little bit of hope you have left.
Jazmin gained a precious friend due to cancer. She spoke highly of Gayle and how sweet and kind she was. These girls have been songbirds. Gayle and Jazmin have continually sung to all of us of God’s love and presence during their battle. They have shown the beauty of clinging to God amongst a raging storm, and fierce, relentless fight to live.
Shortly after the surgery, we saw the news on her prayer page; Gayle had twenty-four hours to live. What sadness filled our hearts, not only for Gayle but for her family who has walked this journey with her every step of the way.
One of the songbirds was going to leave. Gayle was going to get a new set of wings and soar to the heavens. Her prayer page filled up with photos, videos, poems, words of love, kindness and encouragement.
Why can’t we hang onto our loved ones forever? I want answers, but God is more significant than my questions and doubts. He has grander paintings to paint, stories and poems to tell then I do.
He paints beauty amongst ashes.
He’s touched thousands of lives through Gayle’s song.
After we left the apartment, we headed over to the cafe and had a lovely hour there.
We kept texting with Eythan throughout the day to check on how Jazmin was doing. Her pain was escalating and becoming unbearable. We grabbed some lunch and let Eythan know we were coming to drop off food for him.
As I handed him his brown paper bag of food, he said to me in a sad and solemn voice, “I’m going to call an ambulance for Jazmin.”
I see the beauty again…
A heart squeezed with love and pain. A young man who wants to pull out the cure for cancer and gift his bride with its healing powers. A husband who loves his wife and wants to rescue her from all the hurt she suffers.
I said goodbye and hugged my son. I remember the words he said to me when he is five, “When you die Mommy, I want to die.” I am overjoyed he no longer feels this way. This love he had for me he has transferred to Jazmin.
Sherie is going to meet them at the hospital. Eythan and Sherie have done this many times together. Eythan is calm during the storm. He never gets too worked up during these trips. He lived with his brother Kyle his whole life who has severe autism. Storms were an everyday occurrence. Chaos was a normal life for us. It prepared Eythan for his present life.
We drive home, and I walk in the door. My son Devy has come over to have waffles and bacon with his dad. His hair is green instead of its usual brown colour. He tells me the kids at the daycare he works at sprayed his hair with temporary colour. I smile at him.
Devyn is a tenderhearted young man, and he and my husband Vance were concerned about Jazmin and asked immediately how she was doing, and I fill them in. Her trip to the hospital led to extra painkillers, and she was at home with less pain and feeling better.
We breathe a sigh of relief.
When Jazmin hurts we all hurt. We are her family. Cancer has drawn us closer together. The ocean around us has pushed us all onto a small patch of ice together. We cling to hope, we hang on to God and to each other.
This is the beauty of a cancer journey: It can break you… or it can cause you to have hope, faith, love, friends, family, and God surrounding you.
*Gayle made her journey into heaven on March 15, 2018. I picture her in a beautiful white sparkly dress twirling and laughing. Her final destination has brought her great joy 💗
For God so loved the world that he gave his only son that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life. – John 3:16