MY LORD’S GRACE – by Jessica Bardales

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I have a terrible voice. It’s a fact! I know by the way my children roll their eyes and try to help me to get the right tune or whisper the correct words or by how my husband gently turns on the radio or TV. It’s funny how they distance themselves from me a bit if I embarrass them in public with my sudden singing or screaming when I am happy, but I do not care much. I really love to sing. I sing all the time, in my office, between surgeries, while cleaning, cooking. Almost every early morning I go to my garden to enjoy God’s creation and I sing at the top of my lungs. My poor pets do not have a choice but to listen to me. My favourite place to sing is my church. I purposely sit next to a young lady with an amazing voice so mine blends with hers and it´s a bit more pleasant to the ears.

I know my Lord does not care either how good or bad my voice is. I just need to say it loud: “My God is awesome, He can move mountains, keep me in the valley, hide me from the rain. My God is awesome, Saviour of the whole world, giver of salvation, by his stripes I am healed.”

Jessica and Family

 

After the technician left me with the intimidating PET-CT scan machine, I sang at the top of my lungs, in my opinion, one of the most beautiful songs ever written, “AMAZING GRACE”. Unable to move a muscle, in that tiny space, I reflected on the many blessings that have been granted to me. “Through many dangers, toils and snares I have already come, His grace has brought me safe thus far…”

I will share with YOU more details later but I cannot wait to tell you about his infinite grace to a simple human like me.

I did not know how to sit or breathe while waiting for six hours to hear my name being called. I was trying to be prepared in case the outcome was not good and promised myself to take it the best possible. My oncologist’s first words were: “Jessica, there is no evidence of disease at all.”.I did not react, did not smile, did not say a word.

My doctor was so nice to step out and leave me with my emotions. I had the paper in my hands, my name was on it, I read it several times: “The previously described hypermetabolic nodes have completely resolved.””No findings to suggest malignancy.””No evidence of disease”. When I heard the steps of my doctor coming back to his office is when I got up from my knees. My Lord, you heard my prayers!

I am writing this from my house in Nevis. I was planning to write more but I was reminded that a patient is waiting for me at Alexandra Hospital. With the help of the Almighty we will destroy pre-cancerous cells to prevent cervical cancer.

 

I am asking my Lord to guide every step of my life, continue blessing my hands to fight the devil, continue charging every atom in my body with love and thankfulness.

I need to be checked every three months. I am still under medication and dealing with some long lasting side effects but I do not want to think of anything else but just concentrate today on my thanks for His infinite love and mercy.

God had mercy on this mother. At the beginning of my battle my “Js” were only 6 and 8 years old, now they are 10 and 12. All that I ask with a contrite heart is more quality time to see them grow.

Every cell in my body and my soul belongs to our Almighty. He is always there! In happy and in difficult times. Believe!

I am going back to work to glorify His name. AMEN!!!

……I wrote the above six months ago. I have had two more checkups, ALL CLEAR, clear like the Caribbean Sea that surrounds our Federation. Now, I am not only reading about others receiving God’s infinite grace. I have received it! It sounds surreal to say: “I am a stage 4 breast cancer patient, completely free of disease”.

After countless treatments trying to put the lion in its cage, through the physical challenges of living with this chronic disease that never ceases to remind me of the physical limitations it has imposed on me, I am ever mindful and grateful that my spirit continues its positive trajectory, rejoicing every day in the gift of life. Once we, cancer patients, direct our energy toward embracing the full spectrum of our life — acknowledging the many side effects, yet remaining focused on our innate strengths as valued partners in healing, we are living!

We all have the same amount of time. TODAY!! Life is precious. While we live, let us live!” LIFE, LIFE that comes with losses, sadness, disappointments, happiness, challenges, surprises!

On the 26th of March, as a part of preparing to celebrate my son’s 11th birthday, I hesitatingly signed a paper allowing my children to take part in the annual Cross Channel Competition. My twelve year old girl swimming all the way from Nevis to St. Kitts? What about sharks and sea urchins, what if she collapses and nobody notices? My little boy in the middle of the Channel? What if he loses his sense of direction and ends up somewhere else? I cannot swim. How am I going to help them this time? Are my children really doing it?

Thank you, Mr. Winston Crooke and Terri Andrews for organizing the event. It was “specially special” as it partnered with the “Special Olympics Event” It was a life learning experience for my children, other participants and our entire Federation to understand first hand that  limitations and physical disabilities disappear when we blend them with love and acceptance. Dear Valérie Grégoire, how did you convince my little boy who was once not able to reach the closest boat to shore to take part in a 1000 meters relay? The idea of inclusion of the Special Olympics was the key, and you, as a special person did the magic. I cannot wait for next year’s event. I am sure we will have more local participation. There is so much hidden talent in our little/big Nevis. The experience to actually swim with international figures will remain in their young minds forever. THANK YOU!!

My children were not good at any sports at all. They inherited that from me (I thought). Just two years ago they could hardly coordinate their movements while learning their first strokes. Then we found somebody special at Oualie. We will forever be grateful to our friend and coach, James Weekes, for believing in them, for not allowing us to make any excuses. During my debilitating treatments, when I couldn’t drive my “Js”, he would find a way to get them attend their lessons. Even on cold days, when we were hoping classes would be cancelled, he was always there, waiting to train mine and many others. I admire you so much. You and “Reggie” have so much love for any type of sport and for “our people”. You are more than role models, you are nation builders. That day I trusted you with the two dearest reasons for my life. My Essien and I survived because of you and other amazing friends. Thank you, Charlie Gaskell, for giving me your time and boat to “feel close to them”, my sister, nurse Roxanne Brookes and brother, Dr. Gonzales.

What other challenges are these serious but resilient and determined young persons going to adventure into next? You both continue to amaze me every day! Mama is here to help, clap hands or just pray….but I AM HERE because of YOU my Lord, the love of family and YOUR love. There is hope on the horizon, a sunrise over a mountain when you climb with faith.

We are blessed with access to information technology island-wide. Never has it been easier to inform ourselves about the most common cancers in females (Breast and Cervical) that are leaving so many of our children motherless. Please, make time to do your monthly self breast exam. Visit your doctor, do your mammograms, pap smears. If you are “feeling something” that you know is not “normal” for you and you do not find answers, go for a second opinion. Males, do not be afraid or embarrassed to check your prostate or colon. Let’s pay attention to our eating habits. Diet is more important that you can imagine. More fruits and vegetables need to be planted so the high prices will be reduced. In spite of difficulties, we need to be and feel thankful for our many blessings. One of them is to be living in this beautiful, magic spot on earth. Pursuing happiness and being helpful to others is so therapeutic, effective and completely FREE OF COST!

After being diagnosed with cancer, in spite of the staging, every journey is so different. All of us do not fight with the same armor, have the same family, community or government support. So many will be completely FREE after simple procedures, others will be challenged to the point of not recognizing themselves, others will lose their battle, but remember that only the physical body goes. Nowadays, I do not know a person who doesn’t have a family member or friend touched by cancer. As a warrior who has encountered the monster and is still fight every single day for myself and for anyone I can help along the way, let me tell you what are cancer’s worst enemies: FAITH AND LOVE.

If you are the one starting the battle, in the middle, finishing or even losing it, or you are close to one of these warriors and feel hopeless and impotent, please, look in the quietness of the night or in the beauties of the day for the INFINITE LOVE of our Creator. If you are sinking in depression, PRAY with every atom of your body. He will come and lift you up, only HE can make pains and doubts go away. Ask for acceptance and peace, but…..DO NOT GIVE UP BEFORE TIME!! DO NOT DIE BEFORE YOUR TIME. START LIVING IN SPITE OF THE CONDITION. Only God knows when will be our last day on earth, nobody else! I believe that my Lord’s decision is that my purpose on earth is not yet fulfilled.

It’s 5 a.m., 17th of April. I pray not to read about any more shootings in our Federation, as every morning I celebrate the unique and priceless gift of my existence and YOURS. Life is so precious. Apparently my strong life energy doesn’t fit the stereotype of someone who is at that stage of a disease. Whenever I hear any message that attempts to frame my vitality and precipitate my mortality or of any of my brothers and sisters, I become stronger and energized to go out to work, find and destroy the enemy but with peace in my heart. What we, cancer patients know is something others may not fully comprehend: every breath we take is proof that WE ARE LIVING IN SPITE OF OUR disease. Faith and love from our Almighty and from YOU has carried out this far.

I am going to start my day a bit tired hopeful.

With Love,

Dr. Jessica Bardales