Well, here we go. This blog is called Jazmin Unfiltered because when I started it, I wanted an outlet where I could write about things that were whirling around in my head. I wanted somewhere where I could just be myself and write. I hoped that at least one someone would find my posts useful or get something out of it. If that happened, then that would be worth it. I wanted this blog to reflect who I am and who I am striving to be. I’ve tried to keep my posts as authentic and honest as possible, however, I don’t think I have ever truly had an “unfiltered” post.
Today will be the day I share the most “unfiltered” post possible and let you know what my life is and has been like.
If you’re new here, you may not know that I am a terminal cancer patient. I was diagnosed 4 years ago with stage 4 adrenocortial carcinoma (ACC) which is cancer of the adrenal gland. It is a super rare cancer and in almost all cases, has no prognosis. The fact that I can say I was diagnosed 4 years ago is almost a miracle in itself, since most ACC patients don’t live even near that long after diagnosis.
This has been my life. Cancer has been my life the past 4 years.
When I was diagnosed, I was determined to not be just “Jazmin, the girl with cancer” since cancer did not define who I was. It is simply just what I had. Just like you are not just “(insert name), the diabetic” or even“(insert name), the house wife”. Our identity is not found in what we have or what we do. Who we are is not defined by our intellect or our possessions, but by our hearts and spirits. I find my identity in Jesus Christ and when I was diagnosed I wanted my life to continue on as it always had, I wanted people to look at me the same as they always had and I wanted people to see me for who I am and was as a person, not for what my physical body was going through.
I tried my very best to hide all signs that I even had cancer at all. It wasn’t a secret but I didn’t ever want a stranger to look at my social media accounts and be able to say, “Oh, she has cancer”. The fact that I never endured chemotherapy helped me look as though I was not sick, the surgery I had to remove a large tumour helped me continue to attend school and continue all other activities that I loved to do, and the God that I love and serve gave me an overwhelming sense of peace which allowed me to continue to be my happy, carefree self. But I couldn’t totally erase all signs of this disease.
Even though I had a surgery to remove the original tumour, the cancer was still growing and spreading. Even though my social media showed no sign of cancer, that didn’t stop people from talking about it. And, even though I didn’t go through chemo, (doctors advised against chemo) that didn’t mean I was completely healthy. I was still a cancer patient.
This past year has been the best, as well as most difficult year of my short 21 years of life. I have gotten married, lived in Arizona for treatment, lived with another family, endured countless attacks of severe pain, gotten CT scan results that have been devastating, became a dog mom, moved 3 times and moved into a beautiful house, been able to celebrate 2 new marriages with friends and now look forward to 2 more in the coming months, endured the loss of a fellow cancer patient and friend (Gayle Katzenback), made several trips to emerge, found out that I will become an aunt in December and now, to be as honest as possible, not know if I will ever meet my niece/nephew. But the most important thing that I have gone through, and possibly the most important thing that I will ever learn, whether I live another few months or another 80 years, is to fully trust God and surrender my life to Him. I have not gotten here on my own, but God has lead, and guided me to the place my heart is at today.
In the beginning, the cancer had just spread to my lungs when it was found. The spreading of ACC to another organ gave me the stage 4 diagnosis even though anyone who I met would give me a look of total shock when I let them know my body’s secret. “But you look perfectly healthy.”, “But you still have your hair.”, and I think the most devastating thing of all was, “But you seem so happy and… okay. How could you be dealing with cancer?”.
Let me share something else with you that I have learned over the last 4 years; cancer does not steal joy. CANCER DOES NOT STEAL YOUR JOY! The enemy steals joy. The enemy tries to steal, kill and destroy and if I let him, the devil can take my happiness and joy and beautiful life that I have been given so graciously by my heavenly Father and convince me that cancer is to blame for the fear that may creep into my mind.
About 2 weeks ago I found that I was having a very difficult time breathing. I thought I was dying. My body has impressed me so much over the last 4 years. I know that it can’t continue living for too much longer without God’s miraculous intervention. I went to emerge and the doctors said that it was just disease progression, this is what I expected. The cancer has been growing and growing and growing the last 4 years and nothing we have done; the therapies, the treatments, the diets and the medications have ever worked.
ACC is a resilient bugger.
4 years ago where there used to be only tiny, dust sized cancerous mets in my lungs, now exist multiple, huge cancerous tumours taking over my lungs and left kidney area. The tumours in my lungs have grown so much that they now involve the lung lining, and one is wrapping itself around an artery in my lung. 2 weeks ago I was lying in bed, struggling to breathe even by doing something as simple as rolling over into a different position. I looked into my husband’s eyes and didn’t know if I’d be here to celebrate our 1st wedding anniversary in August. This is the most scared I’ve ever been but more overwhelming than the fear, I felt the Lord comfort me with his loving hand and gentle assurance that He is in control.
Over the course of the last 4 years I have had approximately 18 CT scans. Every one of those CT scans, I believed that there’s a possibility that the doctor will enter the room scratching their head and tell me that there is no sign of cancer in my body. Though I have gone through 18 doctor meetings that haven’t ended that way, God gives me hope that it is possible. I believe in miracles and I believe that God is capable and willing to give me a miracle. I also believe that he may not give me a miracle but instead call me home to be with Him in heaven and if that is God’s plan for me, and if that will bring people to accept Jesus as their saviour then that is what I want. I know some people wonder how a loving God could allow horrible things to happen? How could God allow me to have cancer? How could he allow me to die from cancer? We are only human and can’t see or understand the bigger picture but what I know is that sometimes God allows bad things to happen because He does see the bigger picture and the bigger picture may show something amazing come from something tragic. If God wants to use my death for His sake then I’m happy to die for whatever reason he wants. If God wants to give me a miracle and use me here on this earth for His sake then I am happy to wait to go to heaven.
I’m happy and feel privileged to be used by God.
And I know we say that things happen for a reason but what reason could possibly make sense? What reason could possibly be good enough to take a child away from loving parents? What reason could possibly be good enough to allow a parent to watch their child suffer as my parents have? What reason could possibly be good enough to take a wife from a devoted husband, or a friend from my friends? I don’t know, but what I do know is that God knows and that is good enough for me. As a Christian, I know that when I die, whether that’s soon or whether that’s when I’m 100 years old, I am going home to be with God for eternity. Some people can’t say that. Some people don’t know that because they don’t know Jesus yet. But what if my death allows people to see God’s light and see how much they need Him and through my death, someone comes to know Jesus and therefore finds comfort in the fact that when they die, they can look forward to an eternity in the most perfect place imaginable, in heaven with our saviour, Jesus. That is what brings me comfort and peace and allows me to fully trust God when my sickness deters me from having the earthly life I wish for.
One night, maybe about a week and a half ago, I woke up suddenly by gasping for a breath. I took one huge breath in and went back to sleep as quickly as I woke up. The next morning my breathing was WAY better and now today, I’m feeling great! (well, as great as one can feel with a ton of cancer in their body… which surprisingly enough is truly pretty great!) This sort of thing has happened many times, especially this year, bumps in the road. 2 weeks ago was the most severe but I’ve have many bouts of extreme pain that have eventually subsided. I have many days where I feel like total junk and many, but less days of feeling awesome.
Right now, as I write this, I am at total peace. I know God has a plan and I am happy that I get to leave my life in God’s capable hands. I have no clue what the next little while will bring but I trust that God knows and will help me and my family through whatever it is. For now I am enjoying life. I live day by day. Each day may be amazing or terrible but my husband, Eythan and I are enjoying every second that we have together now, just in case.
I said that this post was going to be as honest as possible and so I know that my body can’t go on like this for too much longer. The cancer is growing and is taking over my lungs. I know that soon I will be in heaven with my Lord or will be cancer free and sharing with everyone I know the story of how God gave me a miracle and healed me. I want to be here. I want to have kids and a career, and get to celebrate my 50th wedding anniversary with Eythan. But if that’s not his plan then I am happy to know that I didn’t let cancer define who I am. My identity is found in Jesus and I want to go home to Him and know that I never lost my identity.
This post was important for me to share because although I have been using this blog to talk about my struggles with cancer and all that deals with that, I want it to reflect who I am. I am not the girl with cancer. I am the girl who loves Jesus.
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.