Five years and THREE days ago Jackie entered the surgical suite to have a large tumor removed from her spine. Five years and ONE day ago Jackie emerged from surgery tumor-free. Read about this two-day surgical saga beginning here.
Five years later – Jackie at 17 was a courageous girl. At 22 she is a strong, confident woman. At 17 she awoke from surgery and said, “I’ve been run over by a car. You may put that on my Facebook.” At 22 she wrote the following Facebook post:
5 years ago today surgeons removed part of my spine, part of my ribs and fist sized tumor. They left 14 inches of scars which are a daily reminder of that day. I am grateful for the reminder though, because I’ve learned to see them as a beautiful thing. They are a reminder that I have a loving Heavenly Father who sends angels to lift me up and keep me going. A reminder that Jesus Christ is there for me to lean on and receive strength from. And they are a reminder that I can do hard things, and I can do them with a smile. And this picture is from a completely unrelated surgery, but @gregandrus makes me smile and his courage is a reminder that I can keep going too.
Prior to Jackie’s surgery I wrote this:
I was recently reading in the scriptures about the Lord’s ability to make our burdens light. It hit me that he does not always remove the burden – it is still there. However, he makes it so that we can handle it. The first time Mark and I went to the City of Hope in LA to discuss Li-Fraumeni syndrome they were so surprised that we had six children and none had been diagnosed with cancer (8-9 years ago). I was horrified that it could be that much of a reality in our future; and I just knew it was something I would not be able to handle. Now here I am handling it – with a great deal of happiness and hope. Obviously the Lord is guiding us through all of this. The thing I found interesting as I read this time is the idea that the burden is not removed. We do have to go through it – and carrying it will strengthen us.
Jackie experienced medical trials on her mission including kidney stones and a precancerous condition that included months of precancerous-chemo-treatments which affected her both her physical and mental health in many ways. The family was not able to be with her during this time. She worked hard to not let others know the reason behind her frequent (and almost constant) illness/nausea. (This was brave but also meant that she lacked support and sympathy. Of course her leaders and companions were aware.) Yet she made it through because she remembered the lessons she had learned earlier in life. The Lord will give us strength to do what we cannot do on our own. He was her friend and her family. He lightened her burden yet blessed her with the benefit of carrying it. He helped her to smile and she is smiling still. We are blessed to share her life!