jackie aviles 


jackie aviles


Day 14

I'm Jackie!

Through the years, It has been my joy to write words that have captured the essence of hope in suffering. That have encouraged countless people to boldly face their seasons of struggle.

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The house is quiet.

The boys are sleeping and my hubby is getting ready for bed.

I decide to take a shower with time. As I’m washing my hair I don’t have a care in the world. I completely forgot I had cancer… I am vigorously rubbing my scalp when suddenly, I panic. I stop – hands in my hair, afraid to look at them – and screamed for my husband.

“Honey!” I shout, my soapy wet hands still on my head. “Emilio!”

He comes rushing in.

“What’s wrong?”

“My hair – is it coming off? I don’t want to look at my hands.” I can’t look at my hands.

“Let me see,” he says, so tender and calm. He lifts my hands from my head. “There’s nothing. I promise. Nothing at all.”

There was a pause. “It’s gonna be ok,” he said.

I began to weep. The tears came as a reaction to my shock but also out of relief.

I felt God telling me “It’s gonna be ok” through my husband.

When I woke up the morning of May 30, I instantly looked at my pillow.

It was “Day 14” – the day doctors told me I would begin to lose my hair.
And that’s exactly what happened.

Dark strands of hair contrasted against the white sheets, but I didn’t think anything of it at the time.

I say that was God sparing me of a moment of anguish.

When I ran my fingers through my hair early Memorial Day afternoon, my entire hand was covered in strands of hair.

I gasped for air, whispering to myself, “It’s actually happening.”

This is so weird…

I ran my fingers through my hair again, just to make sure this was real.

It was.

As the day went on, more and more hair continued to fall, and in larger quantities. I wouldn’t even have to touch my hair for it to land on my shoulders.

I remember thinking, “This is the most traumatizing thing I’ve ever gone through.”

When I got in bed that night, I was silent. I couldn’t even pray. I just kinda forced myself to sleep, to not think of anything.

I had nightmares all night: thinking I would wake up with patches of hair on my head. Afraid to move my head around my pillow because the movement would cause more hair to fall off.

I remember waking up a 2:30am and avoiding the mirror in my hallway as I walked to the kitchen for some water.

Ugh.. This is such a grueling process. I hated the way I felt. It was the first time since my diagnosis that I was angry.

Angry that I had to go through this.

Angry at myself.

I felt like the enemy was laughing in my face and I just felt so dumb.

It’s just hair…

Ugh! Why am I feeling so scared about this?

I rushed back in bed, dusted my pillow in the dark, laid back down and cried.

I just cried, trying not to wake my husband. He always comes to the rescue. I just couldn’t put him through more emotional turmoil that day.

I was afraid to touch my head. I avoided that at all costs. I knew at this point my hair had to have been so fragile, hundreds of strands would have come right off if I did.

I couldn’t sleep.  Instead, I began to write. Writing has been so surreal for me. When I write, I feel as if I’m writing someone else’s story. It helps me to think – helps me to focus. The greatest moments with God happen when I’m writing.

Thankfully, my thoughts were instantly taken over by the Holy Spirit as I began to write and the sweet voice of God said:

“…the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to Me than a whole flock of sparrows.”

(Luke 12:7)

I was so comforted by God.  I am worth so much to have been bought not just with coins but with the blood of Christ!

As I lay back down, feeling renewed by God, I knew that it was time for the “Big Shave”.

By now, it’s been 3 days since my hair began to fall out.

The last 3 days have been very emotional. So much so that I’ve avoided combing my hair to prevent more hair loss. My scalp is as tender as if someone had been pulling my hair for days. It’s as if my hair was too heavy for my follicles to hold on any longer.

It’s terrible.

My hair is very thin straight down the middle of my head and I have bald patches throughout.

I’ve felt as if my nightmares were coming true…

Thursday, June 2 2016.

I decided to cut my hair in the privacy of my own home.

I’m surrounded by my family, and my husband Emilio is as ready as he can be to shave my head.

It’s a very emotional moment. Not because I was losing my hair, but because of WHY I was losing my hair. To everyone, this felt as if we were in a movie. It just didn’t seem real.

All week, I had been explaining to Leo that Mommy would look different soon. That I was going to cut my hair.

He didn’t like that very much and he continued to tell me, “I don’t want you to look different.”  His little 3 year old mind just didn’t understand.

Emilio and I prepared him all week for this day, as much as we could prepare him for it.

Then we had an idea! We gave Leo the honors of cutting my hair first.

Holding the scissors in his hand, he thought it was so fun to cut the first lock from mommy’s head!

He wondered if it was ok.

I reassured him that my hair would grow back soon. He was so excited that he wouldn’t get in trouble for doing this! Haha!

It made us all giggle, and a wave of joy came over the room!

Thank you, Jesus!

It was such a good moment to see him be ok with all that was going on.

“Ok, I’m ready,” I said to my family. “Let’s do this!”

My hair has always been my “shield”.

As I lose my hair now, I feel as if I’m losing my shield. My shield in beauty. My shield to the inevitable mean comments of the world, and, ultimately, my shield from my disease.

I am now unprotected from the eyes of the world. Up to this point, people would look at me and have no idea that I’m ill. But now, my disease will be evident.

It will be uncovered.

As the clippers were gliding across my head, and more and more hair fell onto the floor, I closed my eyes and let the tears fall down my cheeks.

Leo came running up to me halfway through and said, “Mommy put your hair back on.” I reassured him again that it would grow back soon.

I was so afraid to look in the mirror. I just couldn’t believe this was happening. Reality was hitting everyone in the room now:

My mom, crying in the distance, whispered to me, “I’m so sorry you have to go through this. I love you my baby girl. ”

I told her “come hold me.” I knew it would help her Cope.

My husband reassuring me the entire time as he cut my hair that I was beautiful. Yet he was so sad and softly said to me, “I’m sorry I couldn’t protect you from this.”

My sister Laura, holding back tears because she is so strong, so strong for me. I pray I’m half the women she is one day.

My mother-in-law Bernice couldn’t handle seeing another family member with cancer.

My sister-in-law Laurie crying with me of the pain she knew I was experiencing.

Sara and Kristy watching this devestating moment from afar, but as quiet as two angels praying over me.

This was a beautiful disaster because I knew I wasn’t alone. Even through all of this pain. Yes, my family was around me in tears as well, but my God was Holding me.

“For I, the LORD your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I am the one who helps you.”” Isaiah 41:13

“Nevertheless, I am continually with you; you hold my right hand.” Psalm 73:23

I opened my eyes to a head with no hair. Looking into the mirror in front of me, as Emilio embraced me in his arms.

Suddenly, something happened inside of me. I was shaken to my core, as if I had been touched by the arms of an angel.

At that very moment, I noticed I had been wearing the wrong armor all along.

Ephesians 6:10-18 says:

“10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints…”

I smiled so big. Through the tears of fear and sadness, I smiled. My heart was filled with joy.

As my worldly shield left my body, my spiritual shield was being lifted up before me. Placed right on me!

The seeds of doubt that Satan had sown were no more! They were ineffective!! My heart was rejoicing.

My faith is now like a golden shield, precious, solid, and substantial.

I had been given another tool by God through which I can be spiritually victorious, overcoming this giant and it’s attack on my life.

This was a day of celebration. A day we were overcoming another battle in this war.

With a smile on my face, my family by my side, I was now suited up in the correct armor for my next fight. And I had the strongest armor of all!

I now had my shield of faith!

And, boy, does the enemy have it coming!

“Who has ascended to heaven and come down? Who has gathered the wind in his fists? Who has wrapped up the waters in a garment? Who has established all the ends of the earth? What is his name, and what is his son’s name? Surely you know! Every word of God proves true; he is a SHEILD to those who take refuge in him.”

– Jack

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