I am honoured to introduce to you the lovely woman who gave me my beautiful daughter-in-law Jazmin. I met Sherie about a year ago when we attended a bridal shower for Jazmin at Sherie’s home. Since our children had a quick whirlwind-romance and us parents could barely keep up, there was hardly time to meet before the wedding. But our second meeting was beside Jazmin’s hospital bed and I honestly thought we may not have seen our children wed. God had other plans and has kept our dear Jazmin with us this past year.
Vance and I bonded with Sherie and her family on that day, and they have been a blessing and joy in our lives, and also our son Eythan’s, ever since. I hope your heart is touched as Sherie shares her story with you. She has been through one of the toughest and most heart-wrenching experiences a mother can imagine.
A Little About Me
My name is Sherie Ayotte. At 46, I have been married to my life partner Aaron for almost 24 years and we are the proud parents of 2 beautiful daughters Vangie Lynn (22) and Jazmin Faith (20). I was introduced to Cindy a year ago after her son Eythan proposed to Jazmin (who said an emphatic “yes!”, of course). Cindy has been an inspiration in my life and Jazmin’s ever since. My “sure Cindy!” was mixed with humility and apprehension when she asked if I would agree to be featured in her “inspiring women” blog post. I had an overwhelming sense that I needed inspiring, not the other way around. With all that was on my plate, the mistakes I’d made along the way, my sins, shortcomings and flaws and the things I haven’t been able to fix yet, I certainly didn’t feel qualified to inspire others.
After all, many days I feel like a hot mess.
My Daily Routine
I am in my 18th year of a rewarding career as a special education teacher at a self-contained school in Sudbury. I have a large classroom/kitchen where I run a cooking and life skills program for students with a variety of physical and cognitive special needs including autism. I am also a union steward for my school and I hold a women’s position on our local ETFO union executive. My husband is also a teacher so we’ve always enjoyed weekends and holidays off together with our girls which was a huge blessing. We have a camp on Onaping Lake where we spent most weekends while raising our girls. We also enjoyed being coach and trainer for the girls’ hockey teams which meant many busy evenings in arenas and weekend tournaments out of town. My girls were my buddies; we enjoyed so much together. I’ve always had a close relationship with them and for that, I am so thankful.
Joys in My Life
I am a recent empty nester to which I initially responded with pouting, self-loathing, too much wine and general dissatisfaction with my new lot in life. After some prayer and reflection (& a push from a trusted friend), I recently tackled my bucket list and auditioned for our local community theatre. I ended up getting the lead role in the musical play “Oliver”.
It was the perfect distraction from my pity party. I made some new friends, found some much-needed motivation and confidence and got some of my joy back. I enjoyed the experience immensely and plan to continue with theatre and singing. I know it was a gift from God.
Vangie currently resides in Windsor where she is exploring her love of cooking and is top of her class in the culinary program at St. Clair College. She has a gerontology degree from Laurentian in Sudbury and hopes to soon use her education to be a gourmet chef in an old age home. Vangie’s move away from home this past September has proven to be such a blessing in all aspects of her life.
Vangie’s bighearted zest for life and her love for God makes me a proud momma.
Jazmin is 20 and newly married to a handsome and ambitious young man (thanks for raising such a wonderful son Cindy!). After some shuffling of cities and apartments, Eythan and Jazmin recently moved into a beautiful rental house 5 mins down the road from home. Their dog Lacey also loves the new abode; they enjoy much more room, a big yard and the coziness of small town living. Eythan works fulltime as a personal trainer and fitness coach at a new gym in Lively.
Struggles Of My Day
My girls have been my pride and joy, and like every mother, I wanted the best for my children. Despite my control freak, obsessive-compulsive, worry first pray later tendencies, we made it through sibling rivalry, speech competitions, homework, friend drama, science fair projects, hockey teams, teenage emotions, the cancer death of my mother at 60, the drowning death of my brother at 30 and all the ups and downs in between. My own childhood was riddled with many hurts and adversities so I remember attempting to script God as I embarked on marriage and parenthood. Surely I’d had my quota of trials and pain and a loving God would protect me from further afflictions (as though I’d suffered my share and it was someone else’s turn).
It was clear to me, however, that God wasn’t following my script when my smart, beautiful, vibrant 17-year-old Jazmin was diagnosed with Stage 4 terminal adrenocortical carcinoma cancer. My world came crashing down.
Jazmin’s health has been a daily challenge for our whole family. Aaron struggled as head of our home with not being able to “fix” his daughter. Vangie struggled with feelings of being lost, ignored and forgotten in the shadow of Jazmin’s ever-growing needs. I struggled with feelings of guilt, that I must’ve done something wrong for my child to end up with cancer. Maybe if I said and did everything right, if I prayed the right words, if I believed hard enough, God would heal her. After a lung biopsy and a nine-hour life-threatening surgery to remove her adrenal gland and a 14cm tumour that was attached to her organs and arteries, we were told she’d need chemotherapy for a 20-25% chance of living up to 5 years.
After much prayer, we went against her doctor’s wishes and began researching alternative cancer treatments. Our search led us to expensive out of country doctors and clinics. In the middle of stress, fear and uncertainty, God was so faithful to provide for our every need along the way. God put amazing people in our path to help encourage us. He provided huge sums of money to cover travel and treatment expenses. Every obstacle we faced was met with God’s provision. As Jazmin’s health continued to decline, we continued to believe and pray daily for her healing. Although we know God led us and opened many doors for us along this journey, Jazmin’s scans to date continue to show an increase in size and number of tumour metastases in her kidney, diaphragm and lungs causing severe pain, weight loss, nausea and difficulty breathing. Now what, God?
Moments With God
I’ve loved, served and trusted God ever since I can remember. I’ve counted and thanked Him for my many blessings. I’ve prayed for and received wisdom, peace, strength and perseverance. I’ve witnessed and been partaker of His forgiving, restoring, comforting, counselling and healing power. I’ve gotten off track, been lost in the wilderness of sin and taken paths I should’ve avoided. God’s love, direction and protection has kept me alive, safe and sane thus far. I know that without Him I am powerless. I know that with Him I can do all things. My faith, my relationship with God is my lifeline.
So…when I asked Him in a panic, “now what?”, he said “stop…and surrender it ALL to me”.
It’s just recently that I’ve thrown up my hands in tears and told God I can’t do this anymore. My child is sick, my marriage is strained, my emotions are raw. My constant chasing and striving for the right formula, the right treatment, the right supplements, the right clinic, the right prayers is breaking me down and stealing my peace and joy…and I’m not seeing the fruits of this labor. I felt I had no choice but to stop trying to write the script.
I have surrendered my will, my hopes, my dreams, my desperate cries, my daily existence to the God I serve.
I’ve never had to trust Him more fully than I do now. I trust that He is in total control…and I’ve found peace there.
I’m thankful for my wonderful friends and family who have given me unconditional love and support. I’m thankful that I don’t have to DO anything or BE anything special for my God to move mountains. I simply have to believe and trust Him. Jazmin isn’t cancer-free right now but my burdens are being lifted. She is safe in the hands of almighty God whose abilities AND intentions are flawless. My life is far from perfect and still needs fixing, but I have peace and joy in the middle of the raging storm.
The battle is the Lord’s, the victory is ours.
I’m sure you found Sherie’s feature to be one that was open, honest and truthful. I hope you were blessed by her unbelievable story. Her daughter Jazmin shared a recent post about living with cancer and the thoughts of dying at a young age. Jazmin blog post will surprise you. Click: HERE, to read Jazmin’s story, “Totally Unfiltered: Who I am Today”.
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